Collectors: Rose Garden

The scene on the sidewalk was a pure Billy Rose spectacle. While cops hovered before the curved Georgian facade of his Manhattan town house, showmanship's shortest (5 ft. 3 in.) giant lounged in the cavity of Henry Moore's Reclining Figure, surrounded by Reg Butler's Woman Stretching, Maillol's Chained Liberty, Rodin's nude Adam and Archipenko's cubistic Woman Combing Hair. While Billy watched, twelve white-coated movers lifted the sculpture into vans. In all, there were 105 pieces conservatively worth $1,000,000, and they were off on their final journey to Jerusalem.

What in the world had prompted Billy Rose's handsome gesture? "About...

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