Must Inspire Generosity
Recently the L.H. Selman Gallery worked with the Art Institute of Chicago to reallocate part of the museum’s collection of paperweights back into private circulation, with all monies accruing from the hammer prices going directly to the AIC for further acquisitions. That catalogue of the historic sale on Saturday, September 17th, 2016, is still available for your reference library at http://www.theglassgallery.com/
Included in the catalogue are four brief biographies of four of the most prominent families in Chicago’s history. Pauline and Potter Palmer II donated the use of their fabled mansion on Lake Shore Drive to the American Red Cross during the Second World War to be used as a training facility for teaching surgical dressings. And the Children’s Home & Aid Society offers the Pauline K. Palmer Award for exceptional commitment and service to families. Ella Grace Burdick was always busy with charitable endeavors and she left 26 charitable bequests on her passing in 1960 at the age of 90. And Lucy B. Kretchmer’s life was filled with public service, and her wake was held at Chicago’s St. Chrysostom’s on the Gold Coast.
But today we want to share a little story about the generosity of Mr. Arthur Rubloff, who left the Chicago Art Institute the most valuable and historic glass paperweight collection to ever enter a museum; http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/expanded-gallery-arthur-rubloff-collection-paperweights.
He also left a collection of bronzes to the same institution valued in the millions. And yes – he also left the AIC a bequest of millions of dollars…but sometimes those acts are difficult to relate to from the sheer magnitude of the events. Here’s something still impressive in scale but also impressive in its off-hand immediacy…
On a cold, cold day in the 1980s, clothiers Joe Silverberg and his brother Gene were set to open their flagship store, Bigsby & Kruthers at 1750 North Clark in Chicago. They had success at their other smaller locations and were respected throughout the industry and stood out as pioneering a fashion-forward sense with a European edge. Also They had leased the space from the Arthur Rubloff Co. and the Hilton organization, and they were leveraged to the hilt to reach that point.
They were almost ready, with fixtures and inventory slated for prompt arrival, to fill the huge, three-story venue. And they were dead in the water.
Shortly before the opening date, with all their sources of revenues tapped out, the unthinkable happened. One of Chicago’s colder winters saw fit to burst the pipes and plumbing, resulting in serious flood damage to every floor. Joe remembers being completely despondent. There was no relief in sight.
While Joe and his brother are slumped in his office, Arthur Rubloff unexpectedly walks in – dressed as always, “to the nines.” Joe remembers him dressed in grey, impeccably tailored, including his derby – of course everything matching. “He was beautiful to see,” says Joe. Rubloff, Joe said, was so sartorially fanatical, he would send his favorite clothes to Manhattan for proper dry cleaning.
“Why the long faces?” Rubloff asked. Joe told him.
“What will it take to see you through this?” Arthur continued.
“$100,000.00,” replied Joe immediately, with no sense of where that money could possibly come from.
Rubloff immediately walked over and picked up the phone and called the Lake Shore Bank on Michigan Avenue, where he was a member of the board. Joe heard him say, “Let me talk to…” Then Rubloff spoke again when the man came on the line. “I want a check made out to Joe Silverberg for $100,000.00, and I want it here inside of an hour.”
It was done. Bigsby’s opened on schedule and—unbelievably in big business—the loan was repaid without a dollar in interest.
Thought you’d like to know.