Art: Artfinger: Turning Pictures into Gold

The Japanese art market is, at present, one of the wonders of the world. Erratic and (when coping with Western art) often bizarre in taste, Japanese collectors have become the Texans of the Far East, splurging up to 2000% more than real market value on second-rate Chagalls and Modiglianis, and giving the still embryonic Tokyo market an estimated gross of $1 billion a year on paintings alone. No wonder, then, that Tokyo has attracted a number of big Western dealers, including the most formidable of all—Marlborough Fine Art.

Whereas most of Tokyo's...

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