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From Journalist, Barbara Pollack
A portrait of a man in black suit and blue striped tie, smiling to the camera with his hands in...

Wool Gathering

In early 2019 visitors to the High Line, the elevated park that runs through the Chelsea gallery district in New York, will have the rare opportunity to view The Creation of the World and the Expulsion from Paradise, a 1533 stained-glass window painted by Renaissance artist Valentin Bousch. The work, which sits in a window overlooking the park, was once owned by William Randolph Hearst, and is just one of the many pieces that the new Hill Art Foundation will bring to Chelsea when it opens its doors on the second and third floors of the Getty, the 12-story Peter Marino–designed development on West 24th Street.

The Hill Art Foundation is the brainchild of collector J. Tomilson Hill (best known as “Tom”) and his wife, Janine. The couple has assembled a world-class collection of more than 400 works, valued at over $800 million. These include modern, contemporary, Old Master, and Renaissance objects. Hill is on the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Friends of the High Line, and his wife sits on the board of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.

Inaugurating the foundation’s 6,400-square-foot public exhibition space will be a selection of 21 paintings by Christopher Wool, all culled from the Hills’ collection. Admission will be free. This past June, Sarah Needham, who formerly worked at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, became the exhibition space’s director, charged with overseeing operations and exhibitions, maintaining the collection, and launching a full-scale educational program.

Inside the couple’s Upper East Side apartment, also designed by Marino, Hill was sitting in his study, beneath Peter Paul Rubens’s 1608 Portrait of a Commander and opposite Study for Portrait II, a 1956 “Pope” painting by Francis Bacon. Installed in the foyer just outside is Willem de Kooning’s sculpture The Clam Digger (1972). Books and catalogues devoted to every artist in the collection pack the study. The apartment is one of 10 homes Marino has designed for the Hills, who will soon be moving into another, a $30 million apartment on Fifth Avenue, overlooking Central Park.

Hill grew up in New York City, where he regularly made the rounds of museums under the influence of his artist mother. He would also visit the home of William Burden, then the president of the Museum of Modern Art, with his father, who was a partner in the investment firm William A.M. Burden Company, and there discovered the art of collecting.

He attended Harvard University, where he dabbled in photography and worked for the Harvard Lampoon, and earned an M.B.A. at Harvard Business School. He met Janine in the 1970s, when he was working at First Boston and she was a lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell. They married in 1980.

Early in their marriage, the Hills acquired still life paintings by the 19th-century Danish artist Johan Laurentz Jensen, but when they moved into their current home in 1994, they decided to collect more seriously and broadly. Marino helped the couple draw up a list of eight artists they would collect in-depth: Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Willem de Kooning, Cy TwomblyRoy LichtensteinEd RuschaBrice Marden, and Lucio Fontana—a group Hill likes to call game changers. Within a few weeks, they acquired one of their first Warhols, Campbell’s Soup I: Consommé (Beef), which was one of the works featured in the artist’s historic Ferus Gallery show in Los Angeles in 1962. They paid $340,000.

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