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L.A. Billionaire Eli Broad Collects Great Art Like Some Guys Collect Fast Cars

Does Eli Broad (with wife Edythe) collect art to show he's better than you?

Broad foundationDoes Eli Broad (with wife Edythe) collect art to show he's better than you?

What inspires rich people to collect masterpieces? Is it art's transcendence, which reaches straight to the heart of humanity? Is it the works' connections to beauty and history in this age of digital detritus? Is it the way a brilliant collection can make a family's name echo for generations?

Nein.

According to the New Yorker's much-talked-about profile of L.A. billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, who's building a museum downtown to house his considerable stable of art, collection for him is at least partly about keeping up with -- and outdoing -- the Joneses.

His former art curator, Shelley De Angelus, shows us the money quote, via LA Biz Observed:

"When you've got the big house, and you're driving a Jaguar, what differentiates you from every asshole dentist in the Valley? Art was a way for Eli to distinguish himself."

There you have it -- a peek inside the mind of big money: Fine art is to rich people what spikey hair is to Jersey Shore cast members. The bigger the better.