Nice post, Rick. This whole arena is a little akin to another one I've known something about for many years, the collection of great violins. The Stads, the Amatis, the Guarnerius del Jesus, etc, worth millions of dollars, are mostly in the hands of collectors or collections of one sort or another. Made of rather tempermental wood, they are quasi "living", and need certain care and use to remain in top form, and the collectors must maintain them, usually through a master repairman they retain. Most collectors play violin more or less, but are seldom great artists, though some great artists do collect. Typically the great players can afford to own a great violin or two, but the up and coming aspiring artists usually cannot touch them at all financially, and so must impress and depend on one of the collectors or other patrons to acquire one that will show off their talent. It's a system that seems to work quite well, meeting everyone's needs for the most part.
The comparisons to bonsai collecting is not that close a fit, of course, since they are not used in a performing art, but they are used in displays from time to time, and a lot of the rest of it is similar. It is probably a good thing that these irreplacable specimens are cared for by someone with an appreciation for the art, and the respect, responsibility and resources necessary to maintain their investment over time.