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The Real Treasure of Citizen Kane: William Randolph Hearst and the Story of His Extraordinary Collections

Mary L. Levkoff, curator and head, department of sculpture and decorative arts, National Gallery of Art. Media magnate William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) was one of the most powerful men of the twentieth century. His political influence, flamboyant lifestyle, and enormous wealth kept him constantly in the public eye, and Orson Welles’s caricatured depiction of him in Citizen Kane only magnified his notoriety. In this lecture recorded on November 3, 2013 at the National Gallery of Art, Mary Levkoff, Gallery curator and author of Hearst the Collector, explores another aspect of Heart’s life: his extraordinary art collections. Levkoff reconstructs Heart’s vast collections of tapestries, classical antiquities, silver, arms, and armor that, at the time, were the largest in private hands. She argues that if half his treasures had not been sold off during the financial crisis of the 1930s, he would be readily recognized today not only for the quantity of items that he bought, but also for the outstanding quality of his collections.