George Blumenthal (banker)

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George Blumenthal
7th President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
In office
1934–1941
Preceded byWilliam Sloane Coffin
Succeeded byWilliam Church Osborn
Personal details
Born(1858-04-07)April 7, 1858
Frankfurt am Main, German Confederation
DiedJune 26, 1941(1941-06-26) (aged 83)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Spouse(s)
Florence Meyer Blumenthal
(m. 1898; her death 1930)

Mary Clews
(m. 1935)
RelationsMarc E. Meyer (father-in-law)
Eugene Meyer (brother-in-law)
OccupationBanker
Net worth$54 million (1937)[1]

George Blumenthal (April 7, 1858 – June 26, 1941) was a German-born banker who served as the head of the U.S branch of Lazard Frères.

Early life[edit]

Blumenthal was born in Frankfurt am Main in 1858.[2]

Career[edit]

Blumenthal a foreign-exchange banker was sent to the United States by Speyer & Co.,[2] and rose to prominence as the head of the U.S branch of Lazard Frères. He was also a partner of Lazard Frères in France. He retired from Lazard in 1901, giving up his seat on the stock exchange, and returned as a partner in 1906. He returned to the stock exchange in 1916, purchasing a seat for $63,000 (equivalent to $1,480,211 today).[3] With J. P. Morgan the elder, he was one of five bankers who saved Grover Cleveland from giving up specie payments in 1896, with their $65,000,000 gold loans.[2]

Philanthropy[edit]

In New York, he served as president of the Mount Sinai Hospital,[4] where he donated $2 million and where the Blumenthal auditorium is named after him. He was a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for many years as well as president of the American Hospital of Paris. He served as the seventh president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1934 until his death in 1941, where he gave $1 million[2] and to which he bequeathed the Patio from the Castle of Vélez Blanco, a colonnaded Spanish Renaissance patio.[5] After his death, he was succeeded by William Church Osborn.[6]

His niece, Katharine Graham, in her memoir Personal History, described her uncle as a "difficult man with a big ego." He and Florence also named the Blumenthal Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which contains rare and illustrated books, manuscripts, Haggadot, as a resource for scholarly research.[7]

Personal life[edit]

In 1898, Blumenthal was married to Florence Meyer (1873–1930), a daughter of Marc Eugene Meyer and sister of Eugene Isaac Meyer. Together, they were the parents of one son, who died young, George Blumenthal Jr. (1899–1906).

After the death of his first wife Florence in 1930, the then 77 year old George married Marion "Mary" (née Payne) Clews (1890–1973)[8] in December 1935. Mary, a descendant of Sir Robert Payne (one of the first settlers of Virginia), was the second wife, and widow, of banker James Blanchard Clews, a nephew of Henry Clews.[9]

Blumenthal died at his home in New York City on June 26, 1941.[10][11] His estate was valued in excess of $8,000,000 (equivalent to $139,058,824 today).[12][13]After his death, his widow remarried to Brig. Gen. Ralph Kenyon Robertson in 1943.[14] After his death, she married Baron Carl von Wrangell-Rokassowsky in 1969, becoming the Countess von Wrangell.[15]

Legacy[edit]

George and his second wife endowed the George and Marion Blumenthal Research Scholarships awarded annually for demonstrated merit in community arts leadership by the Roski School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Geisst, Charles R. (2004). Deals of the Century: Wall Street, Mergers, and the Making of Modern America. John Wiley & Sons. p. 119. ISBN 0471480851.
  2. ^ a b c d "Milestones, July 7, 1941". Time Magazine, July 7, 1941. July 7, 1941. Died. George Blumenthal, 83, international banker, philanthropist, and president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; in Manhattan. Born in Frankfort on Main, he was sent to this country by Speyer & Co., later became a partner in Lazard Freres. With J. P. Morgan the elder, he was one of five bankers whose $65,000,000 gold loans saved Grover Cleveland from giving up specie payments in 1896. He gave $1,000,000 to the Metropolitan Museum in 1928, close to $2,000,000 to Mount Sinai Hospital.
  3. ^ "EXCHANGE SEATS $63,000.; George Blumenthal of Lazard Freres Is Back on the Board". The New York Times, March 31, 1916. March 31, 1916.
  4. ^ "MT. SINAI DEDICATES LAST 3 BUILDINGS". The New York Times, April 10, 1922. April 10, 1922.
  5. ^ "Museums: Winging Away". Time Magazine, Feb 05,1965. February 5, 1965.
  6. ^ "W.C. OSBORN HEAD OF ART MUSEUM; Metropolitan Trustees Elect Him President to Succeed Late George Blumenthal ON ITS BOARD 37 YEARS Lawyer Has Been Widely Active in Civic Affairs, as Was His Brother" (PDF). The New York Times. 8 July 1941. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Catalogue of the Art Collection George & Florence Blumenthal". RAantiques.com. Archived from the original on 2012-03-09. Retrieved 2013-06-27. George Blumenthal was an extraordinary foreign-exchange banker who later rose to prominence as the head of the U.S branch of Lazard Freres. Described by Graham as a difficult man with a big ego, he served as the seventh President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1934 until his death in 1941. He had been one of its trustees since 1909, and had served on its executive committee since 1910. He also gave $1,000,000 in cash to the museum in 1928. He and his wife also named the Blumenthal Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which today contains more than 12,000 rare and illustrated books, manuscripts, Haggadot, and recordings that serve as a resource for scholarly research. The Illustrated Book Collection shows original work of Jewish artists and demonstrates the role of individual Jewish publishers in Jewish art publishing. Blumenthal also made contributions to the Jewish Museum in New York City.
  8. ^ "MRS. CARL von WRANGELL". New York Daily News. September 19, 1973. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  9. ^ "George Blumenthal Residence, 50 East 70th Street at Park Avenue". NYC Ago, nycago.org. Archived from the original on 2013-05-30.
  10. ^ Who was Who in American. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1962. p. 110.
  11. ^ "George Blumenthal" (PDF). The New York Times. 28 June 1941. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  12. ^ "BLUMENTHAL ESTATE VALUED AT $8,000,000; Philanthropist Asked That His Securities Be Sold Quickly" (PDF). The New York Times. 13 September 1941. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  13. ^ "Blumenthal Rites Monday" (PDF). The New York Times. 28 June 1941. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  14. ^ McCarthy, Julia (14 December 1969). "Mrs. Robertson Wed to Baron Wrangell". New York Daily News. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  15. ^ "Deaths". The New York Times. September 25, 1973. Retrieved 21 March 2019.

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
William Sloane Coffin
Metropolitam Museum of Art by Simon Fieldhouse.jpg
President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

1934-1941
Succeeded by
William Church Osborn


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