John Hay: Family

John Hay's way with social connections and the accumulation of wealth -- and, to be sure, literary accomplishment and public service -- was passed along to a family that has taken a large place on the American stage over the past century.

John Milton Hay and his wife had a son and daughter who grew to adulthood. The son, Clarence L. Hay, lived on at The Fells, the New Hampshire summer home, and eventually gave it to the public as a National Wildlife Refuge. Clarence Hay's son, also called John Hay, is a preeminent writer about nature. The Hays' daughter married a Whitney. A daughter of this union, Helen Hay Whitney, is memorialized by the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation. Originally established to support research in rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease, the foundation has expanded its interests to include diseases of connective tissue and, ultimately, all basic biomedical sciences. The Helen Hay Whitney Foundation was established by her daughter, Joan, who was Mrs. Charles S. Payson.

John Hay Whitney

The Whitneys' son, Joan's brother, was perhaps the most famous and successful of all. John Hay Whitney earned his own place in American history as a social lion, financier, horseman, and art collector. Jock Whitney was, like his grandfather, an ambassador to the Court of St. James (appointed by President Eisenhower) and a journalist (he owned The New York Herald Tribune). He was linked romantically to several famous beauties, and married to Betsey Cushing. Whitney is the subject of "Jock: The Life and Times of John Hay Whitney" by E. J. Kahn. For a book on the Whitney's art collection, see "John Hay Whitney Collection" by John Rewald. Some links:

  • Sotheby's Sells the World's Most Expensive Painting at Auction -- May 5, 2004 - New York, NY -- Auction history was made at Sotheby's this evening when Pablo Picasso's "Garçon à la Pipe," from the fabled Whitney Collection, sold for $104,168,000 to an anonymous buyer, making it the most expensive painting in the world. "It is the greatest possible privilege for Sotheby's to have been the auction house to break the $100 million threshold," said Bill Ruprecht, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sotheby's. The work exceeded the previous record of $82.5 million set in May 1990 by Vincent van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet.

  • The Sisters -- Betsey Cushing and her two sisters, Mary and Barbara, made six of the highest-profile marriages in the first half of the Twentieth Century. Betsey married James Roosevelt, a son of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, before divorcing him to marry John Hay Whitney. Mary, nicknamed Minnie, married Vincent Astor and James Fosburgh. Barbara, nicknamed Babe, married Stanley Mortimer, a Standard Oil heir, then William S. Paley, president of CBS. This is a review of the book, "The Sisters : Babe Mortimer Paley, Betsy Roosevelt Whitney, Minnie Astor Fosburgh : The Lives and Times of the Fabulous Cushing Sisters" by David Grafton.

  • Van Gohn "Self-Portrait" Is Among Masterpieces Bequeathed to National Gallery of Art by Betsey Cushing Whitney -- The gift included eight important works by major artists, including Self-Portrait (1889) by Vincent van Gogh, Marcelle Lender Dancing the Bolero in "Chilpéric" (1895-1896) by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Open Window, Collioure (1905) by Henri Matisse, The Harbor of La Ciotat (1907) by Georges Braque, The Beach at Sainte-Adresse (1906) by Raoul Dufy, Tugboat on the Seine, Chatou (1906) by Maurice de Vlaminck, The Beach at Trouville (1906) by Albert Marquet, and Saida by Kees van Dongen. The National Gallery of Art received eight paintings by George Bellows, Henri Edmond Cross, André Derain, Thomas Eakins, Edward Hopper, Henri Rousseau, and James McNeill Whistler, from John Hay Whitney Collection after his death in 1982. Mrs. Whitney passed away March 25, 1998. -- From a press release dated August 27, 1998

  • El Universal: Las obras de la colección Whitney

  • Art at Auction -- Fifty Impressionist and Modern works representing a mere fraction of the art holdings once owned by John Hay Whitney and his wife, Betsey, sold within two hours on May 3, 1999 at Sotheby's for a total of $128.3 million. (From the International Herald Tribune.)

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Copyright 1999 and 2000 by David DeJean