This is a very good response Brian. One detail I would add is that Mario was taken in after he left Masi by George Farrier in Monterey. George was most likely the most avid buyer of high end bikes in the USA, maybe the world. He set Mario up with a shop and helped with money, ended up with some nice bikes. Not sure if this made any difference with the current value, but having a big collector stand behind your work does not hurt.
In my opinion Brian Baylis frames were/are much better than Confente in a technical sense. My own frame building philosophy was "form follows function". I feel the cutout lug, engraved parts effect is missing the point of a serious bike. One way of looking at a top racing bike is like a front line fighter plane. Sure it has to be painted, but only if it makes it work better.
I have worked with a lot of world class racers and one thing I noticed is the perception of riding the very best bike is more important than any incremental improvement. In other words, if you think you are on the best bike you will push just a little harder than if you think the brake pad is rubbing the rim.
Brian mentions the attitude typical in Italy before USA became involved in bicycle development, I think this assessment is correct. In my case I was able to take what I learned from building custom frames and offer this knowledge to a much larger audience through Specialized Bicycle. I tried to use Italy as a source, but they always knew best and would not think out of the box. I feel that having a open mind was what American bicycle development brought to the table. This almost certainly came from the success of the mountain bike. I could go on, but that should do it for now.
Big Sur CA