Shearing also writes about “a spectacular robbery in 1960 … that deprived Thompson and his wife of some of their choicest masterpieces, including a Picasso, from their South Hills home. The paintings were ripped from their stretchers and seriously damaged, but were later recovered after a cloak-and-dagger exercise involving the FBI and ‘stake-outs’ in the New York Public Library.”
Still, Shearing reports, after Thompson died, Sotheby's sold 113 of his paintings and sculptures “for what was then astronomic prices. On the death of his widow, Helene, in 1982, a Monet made $1.2 million at auction, a Klee $467,000 and a Picasso $363,000.”
In an essay Thompson wrote, made available through the Internet Archive, he begins by saying:
“The genuine collector is a rare being. He is the pioneer who assembles a collection on the basis of his taste and knowledge. While he diligently pursues a well chartered course others spend time and money in pursuit of the latest art fad.”
The essay ends:
“Exercising your prerogative as to what you buy and how you display [art] is an important part of the joy of collecting. There is fortunately room for all tastes in today's exciting world of art. I wish it were possible for me to do it all over again.”
In a sense, Thompson is “collecting” art all over again through the Peru Community Schools Fine Arts Gallery.
And still honoring John Miller Whittenberger.
Ray Moscowitz of Bloomington is a retired newspaper executive and former publisher of the Peru Tribune. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.