The Galerie St. Etienne, founded by my grandfather Otto Kallir in 1939, is the oldest gallery in the United Stares specializing in Austrian and German Expressionism. During the gallery’s early years, Austrian artists like Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt were completely unknown here. We couldn’t give Schiele’s work away. Alfred Barr, the legendary founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, turned down the donation of Schiele’s Portrait of an Old Man, which my grandfather later gave to the Guggenheim. A Schiele painting like that would now probably sell for over $20 million. Schiele drawings and watercolors, which in the 1940s went begging at $25, command hundreds of thousands of dollars. Clearly, anyone who bought a Schiele for $25 in 1940 made a good investment. But the choice was not an obvious one, and the results took decades to achieve.

Today, in all sectors of the economy, power players try to game the...

 

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