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George M. and Linda H. Kaufman
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Biography of the Collectors
George M. and Linda H. Kaufman
In 2001 George M. (1932–2001) and Linda H. Kaufman (b. 1938) became the tenth recipients of the Henry Francis du Pont Award for Decorative Arts and Architecture, which was established in 1984. This honor was an acknowledgement of their standards of excellence in a variety of endeavors, but particularly in terms of their philanthropy and connoisseurship.
The Kaufmans, lifelong residents of Norfolk, VA, began collecting American furniture shortly before they were married in 1958. George earned an MBA from the University of Virginia, then worked as a banker, an investor, and a real estate developer before founding Guest Quarters Inc., in 1972. Linda grew up in a home filled with fine art and antiques that her parents, Elise and Henry Clay Hofheimer II, had acquired. She attended Old Dominion University in Norfolk. The Kaufmans have two children, Edward G. Kaufman and Claire Kaufman Benjack, and four grandsons.
In 1977 the Kaufmans established the Kaufman Americana Foundation to award grants for the encouragement, promotion, and enhancement of the study of American decorative arts and related items, literature, and illustrations. Through this foundation, they supported a number of scholarly and seminal books, articles, exhibitions, and research projects. In addition, the Kaufmans funded two galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, contributed to the Charles F. Montgomery Curatorial Chair at Yale University Art Gallery, and established special funds and awards at the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Winston-Salem, NC; and Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, Wilmington, DE.
The Kaufmans have long shown their commitment to the National Gallery of Art, as members of the Trustees' Council from 1994 to1998 and particularly Linda H. Kaufman from 2003 to 2008; the Collectors Committee, 1982–2009; and The Legacy Circle since 2003. They have also supported various Dutch art projects and acquisitions, contributed to general acquisition funds, established staff awards, and underwrote the catalogue for the 2002 exhibition, An American Vision: Henry Francis du Pont's Winterthur Museum.
The Kaufmans are also known for their generosity in other areas, such as education and heart disease research. They provided the philanthropic support for the establishment of the Kaufman Center for Heart Failure at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, which opened in 1998. According to the Center's website, the Kaufman Clinic is "synonymous with patient care, education, research, and a healing environment, consistent with the four cornerstones of the Cleveland Clinic." In 1985 the Kaufmans and their children funded the George M. Kaufman Presidential Professorship and also participated in creating a Darden Graduate School of Business Administration professorship held by the school's dean at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
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