Village’s reclusive art collector passes away

Stanley Seeger, who passed away recently
Stanley Seeger, who passed away recently

A RECLUSIVE art collector with a passion for Picassos and Winnie-the-Pooh sketches, has died in Whitby.

Stanley Seeger, who once sold a collection of 88 Picassos for $32million, made his home in Sandsend during his final years and is survived by his companion Christopher Cone.

The Milwaukee native died of an aortic aneurysm on 24 June, aged 81, but right up until his death he continued trading in art.

“One of the last things he did was to sell his Gauguin print,” said Tobias Meyer, worldwide head of contemporary art at Sotheby’s auction house in New York, referring to a sale that took place in March.

“It was a really wonderful collection he put together, but he never talked about it.”

Such was the persona of Seeger, who pursued a passion for modern art and expensive houses “exuberantly but anonymously”, according to the New York Times.

Among his favourite pieces were Picassos, modern British artists like Ben Nicholson, historic cookbooks and the illustrator E.H. Shepard, best known for the Winnie-the-Pooh books.

Throughout his life Seeger remained reclusive, and few in Whitby will have been aware of such a prolific art collector among their midst.

When The Financial Times ran a profile of him in 2010, it claimed that the photograph of him that accompanied the article was the first to be published in his lifetime.

One of the rare occasions when Seeger found himself thrust into the spotlight was in 1980, when he purchased Sutton Place, a red-brick manor house built in the 1520s, from the estate of J. Paul Getty for $17m.

With 14 bedrooms, large banquet halls, a 100-foot-long library and more than 700 acres of grounds, it is one of the grandest of English country houses.

Although he eventually settled in Sandsend, earlier in his life his whereabouts could be hard to pin down.

At various times he lived on his 1929 yacht, the Rosenkavalier, sailing in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean and he also had homes in Barbados and St. Moritz.

After selling Sutton Place, he lived in country homes in Berkshire and Devon before retiring to the solitude of Sandsend.