back to blog
In Memoriam

Remembering Robert Anthoine (1921-2015)

By Melissa Harris

black and white photograph

Dear, kind, generosity of spirit, fun, good-natured, always smiling, supportive, lovely, vivacious, joyful . . . the endearments are endless for Robert Anthoine, lawyer, teacher, and arts philanthropist who died on January 23, 2015, at age ninety-three.

Bob Anthoine served on the Board of Aperture Foundation, including as its chairman, for more than twenty years, from 1984 to 2008. After learning of his death, I wrote to generations of the Aperture family—a loyal and loving group scattered throughout the world. I knew that Bob had impressed so many of us, over so many years, with his warmth and intelligence. I wanted to let his larger family know of his death, so that we might all, in our own way, celebrate his life. When I wrote to his eldest daughter Alison Anthoine, she responded, “He had a very full life, with an unbounded enthusiasm for the arts, and a special relationship with Aperture. In a certain way, it was a kind of family for him. He would tell me the goings on there in much the same way I would tell him about my kids.” The feelings were entirely reciprocal.

Bob truly believed in certain projects, certain artists. He believed in freedom of expression. It was clear that he loved Aperture. Maybe it was our kookiness, for sure it was our executive director and publisher at the time, Michael E. Hoffman, and maybe it was also Bob’s belief that mission-driven, arts-oriented, not-for-profits should thrive. . . . He gave an enormous amount of his time and energy to help ensure that Aperture would survive. He was behind the formation of the Strand Foundation, which evolved out of Michael Hoffman’s friendship with Paul and Hazel Strand, and drove its ultimate merger with Aperture Foundation. He was also a constant sounding board for Michael—no matter where Bob was on the planet. Bob adored traveling—to call him peripatetic is an understatement. Yet there were certain nonnegotiable dates: I had the pleasure of spending many a Fourth of July with him and his second wife Rebecca Rudnick (who died in a scuba diving accident in 2001) and Michael—and it was 24/7 Wimbledon. Tennis was key (he was the Maine State tennis champion when he was in high school). Bob, who loved James Joyce, maybe even more than tennis, would regale us with his and Rebecca’s Bloomsday exploits in between matches: they often participated in the annual celebration in Dublin.

Bob was crazy for the theater—his missives from London were especially memorable. His support of the Royal Shakespeare Company by, among other things, creating the American Friends of the RSC, led to his appointment as an Honorary Governor for Life.

Although always engaged and ebullient, I’m not sure I ever saw Bob happier than when I told him I was working with Dario Fo on a book project. Fo’s humor, politics, irreverence, and brilliance as a playwright and performer made Bob giddy. I don’t know what was more fun—attending Fo’s performance, or watching Bob watching Fo perform! His laughter was wonderful!

Born in Portland, Maine, on June 5, 1921, Bob was the only child of Edward and Sara (Pinkham) Anthoine. After graduating from Duke University in 1942, he served for four years as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1949 and returned there to teach in 1952. In 1963, he joined Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts as the head of its tax department. He continued to teach as an adjunct at Columbia for another thirty years, and as a visiting professor at law schools around the world through his seventies.

Among the many other organizations to which he devoted his time are the Morris Graves Foundation, the Eric and Salome Estorick Collection of Italian Art, and Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts; he cofounded (and was founding Chairman) the Lucid Art Foundation with painter Gordon Onslow Ford and artist/scientist Fariba Bogzaran, to support artists who explore the concept of arts and consciousness.

He is survived by his wife Margarita Maria Anthoine, whom he married in 2006, and his four children—Alison, Robert Neal, Nelson, and Nina Anthoine; as well as a step-daughter, Mary Danielle Hamilton-Russo; and, six grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.

A memorial celebrating Robert Anthoine’s life will be held on Monday, April 20 at 6:30-8:30 Aperture Gallery in New York City.

Melissa Harris is editor-in-chief of Aperture Foundation


Sign up for Aperture's weekly newsletter: