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The Lost Painting of Betty Smith

To make a case for the tangible and ineffable value of art, I was going to bring up Gustav Klimt and his Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. Painted in 1907, stolen by the Nazis in 1941, and eventually returned to the family of the original owners, it has a tantalizing provenance to match its glittering surface. It’s inspired novels (Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese), histories (The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O’Connor), and even children’s books (Adorable Adele by Peter Stephan Jungk). More tangibly, it set a record in 2006 when it sold at auction for an astonishing 135 million dollars (almost $47K/square inch). But then I remembered that another painting, da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, sold last year for 450 million dollars. So however valuable I was going to claim art is, triple it and round up.

The point is that if you’re writing a book and aiming to make it interesting, include a painting or two ... continued