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Gilbert Stuart
George Washington (The Constable-Hamilton portrait)
Sold by the New York Public Library for $8,136,000
Sothebyís New York
Nov. 30, 2005
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by Walter Robinson

Ah, 2005, what a year. Shall we start with the good news or the bad news? The bad news is pretty bad, so letís get it out of the way.

If you had to pick one word for 2005, it would be "cupidity," an ugly combination of avarice and ambition, especially when found at the very top of our most esteemed institutions. Worst of all is Paul LeClerc, head of the New York Public Library, and his advisor, John Wilmerding, a former curator and now trustee at the National Gallery of Art, who rushed to auction off the libraryís priceless art collection -- including two Gilbert Stuart portraits of George Washington, one once owned by Alexander Hamilton.


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