Paul Walter was born in 1935 to Fred and Anna Walter, co-founders of the New Jersey industrial instruments firm Thermo Electric. Anna Walter, a benefactor of the Morgan Library and Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, instilled in her son a love of culture that would lead him to study Art History at Oberlin College, in Ohio, and Columbia University.
‘I don’t think you learn anything unless you buy,’ Walter commented in later years. ‘It is about commitment, passion, testing one’s own judgement.’ Through collecting, patronage, and leadership roles at the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Walter became one of the city's most respected connoisseurs.
This collection comprises a superb group of works on paper by post-war and contemporary masters Brice Marden, Sol LeWitt and Agnes Martin; early photography by Captain Linnaeus Tripe, Edward Steichen and Man Ray; prints by James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Lucian Freud; and a diverse group of works in various media by friends and contemporaries Robert Mapplethorpe, Billy Sullivan, Robert Wilson and Ralph Humphrey.
Walter’s decades-long fascination with India is reflected in a rich selection of Raj silver and jewellery, watercolours, topographical works and miniatures from the subcontinent — many of which were exhibited at institutions including LACMA, the Morgan Library, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Columbia University.
A polymath and scholar, Walter’s collection also features important English furniture, from a pair of torchères by 18th-century cabinetmakers Benjamin Goodison to fin-de-siècle arts and crafts by Edwin Lutyens, Edward William Godwin and William Benson. An archive of Cecil Beaton photographs, sketch books, and books and manuscripts leads the sale’s library section, alongside a rare musical score by composer Philip Glass.
Presented for sale in two live auctions on 26 and 27 September, with a simultaneous online-only auction, the multi-category Collection of Paul F. Walter comprises more than 560 lots and is expected to realise in excess of $4.5 million. Items are offered from Walter’s Manhattan and Sag Harbor homes, with live-auction estimates ranging from $1,000 to $1,200,000.