Nelson Rockefeller was actually the one that commissioned Diego Rivera for the piece. The article makes it sound like John D. Rockefeller was involved with the commission. Nelson like his mother was a big patron of the arts. The story I have heard was that Nelson was interested in having it moved to MOMA(Museum of Modern Art) and paying for it. For some context Nelson's mother was Abby Aldrich one of the founders of MOMA. The sculpture garden at MOMA today is named after her. Given their interest in the arts and being involved in that circle in Manhattan it seems rather unlikely that Nelson would have ordered it to be destroyed. Although it certainly makes for a more exciting narrative - class struggle, art and violence. Why the move of the piece to MOMA never happened seems be lost to the dustbin of history unfortunately but I have heard it posited that Diego felt the destruction of it was of greater value as a political statement.
Rockefeller and other billionaires are class of people who collect cultural artifacts and value give them absurdly high valuations without making money out of them. They signal their peers that money does not matter to them using art.
99% of what gives art it's value is that it's collectible and can't be owned by others. Today you can take a good photo of the painting, or replicate statue so well that you need expert to find out it's not the original. Being a good replication will not decrease aesthetic value of art, it just decreases the collectible value and social prestige from owning it (masses can't own originals).
That's part of value but not what big money billionaires do.
They actually spend money to fund institutions that eat hundreds of millions and what they get is galas and places to mingle. Really really rich are not laundering money. They are burning it to show they are cultured elite and not just rich.
Nonsense, look at the myth of King Arthur and the search for the Holy Grail. Why go to such lengths if this specific Grail didn't have some sentimental meaning beyond its basic beauty and function as an inanimate object? Isn't that the whole point of valuing 'original'? The essence of the user or creator is thought to be instilled in the original and that fact alone has value.
The more interesting thing is that this happened more than once! The Ford family helped fund Rivera to create the 'Detroit Industry Murals', which happily, unlike the Rockefeller mural, survives to the present day.
As always, you don't really want to go entirely by the headline. The mural did a bit more than trespass on a political vision:
Then, the World Telegram newspaper ran the headline: "Rivera Paints Scenes of Communist Activity and John D. Jr. Foots the Bill." Pliego says Rivera then decided to add a portrait of communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin to the mural.
"He sent his assistants to find a picture of Lenin because, he said, 'If you want communism, I will paint communism,' " Pliego says.
On top of that, according to David Rockefeller Sr., Rivera added a panel that the family felt was an unflattering portrait of his father.
"The picture of Lenin was on the right-hand side, and on the left, a picture of [my] father drinking martinis with a harlot and various other things that were unflattering to the family and clearly inappropriate to have as the center of Rockefeller Center," he said.