Beware the Overpriced Artist

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Byline: Blake Gopnick

Contemporary artists are more "collectible" than old masters: there's more of their art out there, you can party with them, you can even hope to discover geniuses before they get "hot." One downside is that, because the competition's so stiff, prices can lose all touch with reality. That's especially true since the majority of today's most collected art stars are bound to fade into oblivion. (Art history has always done brutal triage.)

Here are five highly touted artists whose works won't all survive as great art and will therefore turn out to be lousy investments.

NEO RAUCH

This German painter, a founder of the so-called Leipzig school, makes perfectly sweet, semi-surreal canvases with a dab of fifties nostalgia. They'd make great greeting cards. Rauch's Suche sold at Christie's for $1,082,500in May 2010.

JOHN CURRIN

Currin makes cartoony figures that sometimes have a hint of pornography. He's praised for his skills with the brush, but it won't be long before it becomes clear that he's just one more realist illustrator. Currin's Nice 'N Easy sold at Sotheby's for $5,458,500 in Nov. 2008. …