Portrait of a Bull Market

What the latest record-setting prices for modern art say about the health of the U.S. economy

Collecting art used to be a rich man's sport, played by those whose bank accounts matched their passion for Picassos and Rembrandts. But times have changed. Now it's a spectacularly rich man's sport, as evidenced by the bidding frenzy that took place last week at Christie's in New York City, where $491 million worth of Impressionist and modern art changed hands--the priciest art auction in history. Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II sold for $87.9 million, obliterating the presale estimate of $40 million to $60 million. Three other Klimts--part of a collection stolen by the Nazis during World War II...

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