Hirshhorn, Joseph H.

Hirshhorn, Joseph H. (Herman)

(1899–1981) financier, art collector; born in Mitvau, Latvia. His widowed mother emigrated to Brooklyn, N.Y. (1907), worked in a sweatshop, and became ill. He and his brothers and sisters were scattered among neighboring families and he became a newsboy. After studying on his own, he became a stockbroker (1916), amassed a fortune, and liquidated his holdings just prior to the crash of 1929. He made other fortunes in gold and uranium mines in Canada, and invested much of his money in art, especially in sculpture, but ranging from Etruscan art to modern American paintings; by the 1960s he owned some 4,000 works. He donated his entire collection to the United States to be administered by the Smithsonian Institution (1966). Funds were donated by Hirshhorn and appropriated by Congress for building the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., which opened in 1974.