Nostalgia for the good old days of the USSR is in—at least for Russian art collectors. These days, communist-inspired paintings of peasant scenes and heroic workers have acquired a uniquely capitalist hipness. "The art was propaganda of happiness," says Yuri Tyukhtin, a banker who runs an art gallery and likes the monumentality of the work.
Over 10 years the number of galleries specializing in Soviet art has grown from five to 50, as afficianados too young to have experienced Stalin sent prices into the five and six figures. "I would like the memory of those times to continue to live," said Dmitri Ivanov, a real estate manager whose father toiled in the oil industry.