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McWhinnie Gone

from The Wall Street Journal

John McWhinnie, Rare Book Dealer, Dies

At a friend’s wedding in 2005, John McWhinnie once distilled some love letters that Orson Welles had written to Rita Hayworth in the 1940s  and read the short passage to the assembled guests.

McWhinnie, a New York dealer, scholar and collector of rare 20th century books, letters and ephemera, died on Friday.

“He figured out a way to make 60-year old mail feel completely contemporary,” said the friend, Bill Powers, a New York gallery owner.

McWhinnie, who was 43 years old, drowned during a snorkeling accident while on vacation in the British Virgin Islands with his wife Maria Beaulieu, a jewelry designer, said an aide to his business partner, Glenn Horowitz. Beaulieu survived.

McWhinnie served as adviser and dealer to artists and executives on their art and book buying, including contemporary artist Richard Prince, novelist James Frey and Daniel Loeb, a hedge fund manager.

“He has been one of the primary forces to bridge the gap between the art world and the establishment rare book world,” said Sheelagh Bevan, assistant curator of printed books at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York. “He was usually two years ahead of everyone else in elevating an overlooked group of artists or writers–Mary Beach comes to mind, but there are many others–to the point where institutions and private collectors took notice.”

“When he died he took with him so much specialized knowledge that will be lost to the dustbin of history,” Frey said.

[ click to read full article at The Wall Street Journal ]

Posted on January 9, 2012 by Editor

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