Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, known to his colleagues as “Punch“, the fourth publisher of the New York Times, is famous for his decision to publish the Pentagon Papers and to promote a radical redesign that set a new standard for newspapers in the last quarter of the 20th century, has died at age 86, after a long illness.
Sulzberger was publisher of the Times from 1963 to 1992 and chairman and chief executive of the parent company from 1973 to 1997. These titles were passed on to his son, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., the fourth generation of his family to head the paper.
Publishing the Pentagon Papers were the defining moment of three decades of transformation at the Times under Sulzberger. He also automated the Times’ production, unified the Sunday and daily news operations under one editor and divided the paper into four brightly written sections.
Hampered by dyslexia, he was an indifferent student who daydreamed in class. His grades were so poor that he repeated the first year of high school. In 1943, the 17-year-old joined the Marines. His desire to prove himself on the battlefield was thwarted by his father, who arranged a transfer to Gen. Douglas MacArthur‘s staff as driver and jack of all trades. After World War II, Sulzberger earned a degree at Columbia University in 1951. He served in the Korean War as a public information officer.
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In his long and productive life as an investor in so many businesses and companies that kept America in the forefront of Industry, he as also one of the greatest committed art collectors in the world, leaving thousands of works by 20th Century contemporaries to over 70 institutions, including the major basis of the Roy R. Neuberger Museum in Purchase, NY.
From the NY Times:
Like any collector, Mr. Neuberger rued the ones that got away. He remembered passing up a Grant Wood painting as well as refusing to pay $300 for a Jasper Johns in the late 1950s. One time a dealer offered him a Picasso sculpture for $1,500, but he declined because he was buying works only by American artists. “I was such a square that I stupidly didn’t buy it,” he told The New York Times in an interview in 2003.
Mr. Neuberger bought all his works himself, usually through dealers. And his taste ran toward the bold. “I liked adventuresome work that I often didn’t understand,” he told The Times as he was celebrating his 100th birthday. “For art to be very good it has to be over your head.”
But he said he enjoyed the challenge that the work posed to the viewer. “Those who understand the mysteries of art,” he said, “are made happier by doing so.”
Neuberger went into the office and worked until age 99… he was primarily self-taught as an investor and as an art collector. He was married to his wife, Marie, who died in 1997 for 64 years.
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- Art Review | Westchester: R.H. Quaytman Exhibition at Neuberger – Art Review (nytimes.com)
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