A Picasso painting sold for $95.2m (£51.8m), singer Luciano Pavarotti was forced to pull out of his farewell tour because of cancer, and author Guenter Grass shocked fans by revealing he was a member of the SS.
Take a look back at the headlines created by the arts world in 2006.
BIG BUDGET ART
The Turner painting shows a view of Venice
It was a bumper year at the auction house, with record sales for works by artists including Gustav Klimt.
A Picasso portrait of his lover Dora Maar sold for $95.2m (£51.8m) in May, the second highest amount ever paid for a painting at auction.
JMW Turner's Giudecca, La Donna della Salute and San Giorgio set a new record auction price for a UK artist in April, selling for $35.8m (£20.5m).
A Klimt portrait fetched almost $88m (£45m) in November.
NEW BLOOD FOR WEST END
Connie Fisher has won widespread praise for her role as Maria
The West End looked for box office success with a new wave of musicals.
Wicked, a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, was already the highest-grossing show on Broadway before its London arrival.
The Sound of Music was the talk of the town after a BBC One talent search show picked out leading lady Connie Fisher, who went on to win rave reviews.
The stage version of Dirty Dancing sold advance tickets by the bucket-load, while Monty Python musical Spamalot was a hit with the critics.
BAD SEX, BEAUTY AND LOSS
Zadie Smith's On Beauty was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize
First-time writer Iain Hollingshead won the Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Award 2006 for Twenty Something.
The judges said a reference to "bulging trousers" clinched the win.
Indian-born author Kiran Desai, 35, became the youngest female winner of the Booker prize with her second novel, The Inheritance of Loss.
Zadie Smith picked up the Orange Prize for her novel On Beauty and a Matisse biography by journalist Hilary Spurling was named Whitbread Book of the Year.
DA VINCI CODE COPYRIGHT BATTLE
Random House published both books at the centre of the dispute
The Da Vinci Code was the most hyped movie of the year, but the courtroom copyright battle over Dan Brown's novel was nearly as big.
The authors of 1982 book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail sued Random House, publisher of both works, for breach of copyright.
Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh lost the case in April but an appeal hearing is expected early next year.
The Da Vinci Code has now sold more than 60 million copies worldwide.
BLAINE TURNS ON THE WATERWORKS
Illusionist David Blaine failed in his bid to break the world record for holding his breath under water, while simultaneously escaping heavy chains.
Blaine managed to hold his breath underwater for seven minutes
Divers pulled him from his water-filled sphere after he began struggling two minutes short of his nine-minute goal.
Blaine spent seven days under water in New York last May.
His latest stunt, escaping from a gyroscopic device made up of three spinning steel rings, was completed successfully in November.
SHOCK SS REVELATION FROM GUENTER GRASS
Guenter Grass was born in Gdansk, Poland
Nobel Prize-winning German writer Guenter Grass, author of the great anti-Nazi novel The Tin Drum, admitted serving in the Waffen SS.
Previously it was only known he had served as a soldier and was wounded and taken prisoner by US forces.
Grass said he was drafted into the SS aged 17 "without having a say", but admitted it was a "mistake" to keep his Nazi past secret for the last 60 years.
Novelist Salman Rushdie defended him, calling his past "a youthful mistake".
PAVAROTTI BATTLES PANCREATIC CANCER
Opera singer Luciano Pavarotti had to cancel the remaining dates of his farewell tour after undergoing surgery for pancreatic cancer in July.
Pavarotti's manager Terri Robson recently said he "couldn't be happier with his results and progress".
It was thought the 71-year-old would attend the Bergamo music festival to accept an award in December.
But Ms Robson said he would not be appearing in public until a charity event being held next year.
MORE SICKNESS-STRUCK STARS
Flatley found fame with Lord of the Dance
Playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn suffered a stroke in February but returned to work at Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre in September.
Irish dancing star Michael Flatley was struck down with a mystery virus in November and ended up in hospital.
He cancelled all 20 European dates of his Celtic Tiger show but later told fans he was "on the mend".
And singer Russell Watson underwent emergency surgery to have a benign brain tumour removed after falling ill while recording in the US.