Janine and J. Tomilson Hill
Is it a Caravaggio or not? Although experts have cast doubt on the true author of a 1607 painting, Judith and Holofernes, the work, attributed to the Baroque master after being “rediscovered” in 2014, was given a $170 million estimate when it came up for sale at a French auction house in 2019. Days before it was to go on the block, however, the house said the piece had already been snatched up. The buyer, according to the New York Times: J. Tomilson (“Tom”) Hill.
Along with his St. Louis–native wife, Janine, Tom has amassed a collection that spans eras and styles. “I don’t think many people 30 years ago were trying to put together works from different periods and mediums,” he told Art + Auction in January 2014. “It’s a more recent phenomenon. Can you put bronzes, post–World War II artists, and Old Masters together in a dialogue?” That same year, New York’s Frick Collection staged an exhibition called “Renaissance and Baroque Bronzes from the Hill Collection,” consisting of 33 statuettes dating from the mid-15th to the 18th century, drawn from the couple’s holdings.
In fall 2018, Hill opened the Hill Art Foundation in a building in New York’s Chelsea gallery district. Shortly before the opening, he told ARTnews of the project, “My major motivation is that I have all this art and I would like to express how I feel, and I would like to have a venue to do that. But I also want kids to be able to come and look at the art. Can you imagine having Christopher Wool in my space talking about his art to a group of students?” Inside the Hills’ New York apartment were Peter Paul Rubens’s 1608 Portrait of a Commander and a 1956 “Pope” painting by Francis Bacon. Installed in the foyer just outside was Willem de Kooning’s sculpture The Clam Digger (1972).