Gustave Maurice Heckscher

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Gustave Maurice Heckscher
Born(1884-05-15)May 15, 1884
DiedJune 11, 1967(1967-06-11) (aged 83)
Alma materYale University
Frances Louise Vanderhoef
(m. 1907; div. 1927)

(m. 1927; div. 1933)

Dorothy Eleanor Bennett
(m. 1934; div. 1936)
Children4, including August
Parent(s)August Heckscher
Anna Atkins Heckscher
RelativesJohann Gustav Heckscher (grandfather)
Myron Arms Hofer (grandson)

Gustave Maurice Heckscher (May 15, 1884 – June 11, 1967), was a pioneer aviator with seaplanes.[1][2] and later a real estate developer in California.

Early life[edit]

Heckscher was born on May 15, 1884 in Philadelphia. He was the son of Anna (née Atkins) Heckscher (1859–1924) and the German-born August Heckscher (1848–1941),[3] who made money in zinc mining with the New Jersey Zinc Company before entering the New York real estate business. His younger sister, Antoinette Heckscher, married the British aristocrat and architect, Capt. Oliver Sylvain Baliol Brett, 3rd Viscount Esher, a son of Reginald Brett, 2nd Viscount Esher. After the death of his mother in 1924, he father remarried to Virginia Henry Curtiss, the widow of Edwin Burr Curtiss, who was 27 years younger than his father.[4][5] His father's second wife inherited all of his father's real estate and $10,000.[6]

His paternal grandparents were Johann Gustav Heckscher, a German politician who was the Minister of Justice in the provisional German government headed by Archduke John of Austria, and Marie Antoinette (née Brautigan) Heckscher.[3]

He graduated from Yale in 1906 and was a classmate and associate of Pebble Beach developer Samuel Finley Brown Morse.[7]


Gustave Maurice Heckscher in his Curtiss seaplane at 60 miles per hour

G. M. Heckscher flew a Glenn Curtiss aircraft in the 1913 Great Lakes Reliability Cruise, at which time he was listed as living in New York.[8]

Real estate[edit]

Like his father, Heckscher was involved in real estate deals, especially in California. He bought the San Mateo Polo Club, the Hope Ranch and sat on the initial board of the Hotel Del Monte after the Del Monte Properties company formed in 1919.[9] Heckscher, a friend of Winston Guest, followed him to Palm Beach, where also backed the erection of the $7,000,000 Hotel Alba after the Duke of Alba (later known as the Palm Beach Biltmore), which failed.[10][11]

In October 1925, he headed a syndicate which offered $7,100,000 for the Vanderbilt mansion (the largest private residence ever built in New York City) on the west side of Fifth Avenue and 58th Streets. It was later reported that the syndicate relinquished its option and forfeited a deposit of $500,000.[12]

Heckscher declared bankruptcy in 1927 when the Equitable Trust Company tried to collect a judgment for $101,320 and failed. It was later revealed that he was indebted at $4,992,000 and only had assets totaling $1,685,836.[13] President of the Board of Alderman, Joseph V. McKee (later mayor of New York City) was appointed Receiver over his property.[14]

Personal life[edit]

On February 6, 1907, he married Frances Louise Vanderhoef.[15][16] Frances was a daughter of Harmon B. Vanderhoef,[17] and a sister of investment banker Francis B. Vanderhoef.[18] In 1909, they bought the Morse Lodge house in Old Westbury, New York and renamed it Upland House.[19] Before their divorce in 1927, they were the parents of two sons and two daughters:[12]

After their divorce in May 1927,[29] his ex-wife remarried to John M. P. Thatcher in 1931.[30]

Maurice remarried to actress Luella Gear, the former wife of Byron Chandler (who was known as "the millionaire kid" on Broadway), on September 28, 1927,[10] although, in 1933,[31] they also divorced.[32] In 1934, he married for a third time to movie actress, Dorothy Eleanor Bennett of London, at the Lutheran Church in Ramsey, New Jersey. Dorothy was the daughter of Robert Bennett, an English ship magnate.[33] They also divorced in 1936.[34]

Heckscher, who was then living at 160 Royal Palm Way in Palm Beach died on June 11, 1967.[35]


  1. ^ Aeronautics. Aeronautical Society of America and the Aero Club of Pennsylvania. 1913. When GM Heckscher stepped from the Curtiss flying boat, about the first questions asked him were not as to how he enjoyed it, ...
  2. ^ American Aviation Historical Society journal. American Aviation Historical Society. 1984. On May 31, the G M Heckscher flying boat was tried and it proved a marvel. "Doc" Wildman took it alone for the first trip this morning, just to get the feel ...
  3. ^ a b "AUGUST HECKSCHER DIES IN SLEEP AT 92; Philanthropist, Real Estate and Steel Operator Was in Florida Home PHILANTHROPIST DEAD AUGUST HECKSCHER DIES IN SLEEP AT 92" (PDF). The New York Times. April 27, 1941. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Mrs. A. Heckscher, Philanthropist, 66. Widow of Real Estate Man Dies in Penthouse Home in Office Building". The New York Times. July 11, 1941. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
  5. ^ "Heckscher, 81, Weds Mrs. V. H. Curtiss, 55. Philanthropist Quietly Married to Widow of E. B. Curtiss at Croton Last Wednesday. Bride, a Close Friend of His First Wife, Has Been Associated With Him in Child Welfare Work. Wed in Parsonage. Born in Hamburg in 1848". The New York Times. July 8, 1930. Retrieved 2009-11-25. August Heckscher, millionaire real estate operator and philanthropist, and Mrs. Virginia Henry Curtiss of New York and Greenwich, Conn., were married last Wednesday in Croton-on-Hudson, but their marriage did not become known to any but their closest friends until ...
  6. ^ "Heckscher Estate Is Left To Family; Widow Gets Realty, $10,000. Half Interest in Residue Shared With Son. No Gifts Go To Charity. Philanthropist Explains These Were Made During Life. Cash Bequests $28,000". The New York Times. May 4, 1941. Retrieved 2009-11-28. Members of the family of August Heckscher, real estate operator and philanthropist, will receive the greater part of his estate, it became known yesterday when his will was filed in Surrogate's Court. Mr. Heckscher, who was 92 years old, died on April 26 at Mountain Lake, Fla.
  7. ^ Hotelling, Neal (2009). Pebble Beach, The Official Golf History. Chicago IL: Triumph Books. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-60078-300-5. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  8. ^ Noel, E. Percy (1913-05-31). "Aero and Hydro Great Lakes Reliability Cruise Entries to Date". No. Volume VI No 9. Aero and Hydro. p. 166. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  9. ^ Hotelling, Neal (2009). Pebble Beach, The Official Golf History. Chicago IL: Triumph Books. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-60078-300-5. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  10. ^ a b "G. HECKSCHER WEDS MISS GEAR, ACTRESS; Marriage of Philanthropist's Son Was Not Announced -- Church Ceremony Quiet. ONLY 50 FRIENDS INVITED Father Left for Florida on Tuesday -- Couple Refuse to Tell Where They Will Go on Wedding Trip" (PDF). The New York Times. September 29, 1927. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  11. ^ "The First High-Rise, The Last Fortress". The Miami News. June 13, 1965. p. 92. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  12. ^ a b "HECKSCHERS' DIVORCE EXPECTED IN PARIS; G. M. and His Wife Are Now in France, and Final Decree Is Looked For Soon" (PDF). The New York Times. April 11, 1927. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  13. ^ "G. HECKSCHER HAS DEBTS OF $4,992,000; Son of Philanthropist Shows Assets of $1,685,836 in Court Schedule. FATHER ONE OF CREDITORS Extent of Failure Greater Than Reported -- Expects to Satisfy All Claims, He Says. G. HECKSCHER HAS DEBTS OF $4,992,000" (PDF). The New York Times. August 16, 1927. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  14. ^ "RECIEVER [sic] IS NAMED FOR G.M. HECKSCHER; McKee Is Appointed in Equitable Trust's Proceedings to Collect $101,320" (PDF). The New York Times. April 22, 1927.
  15. ^ "MISS VANDERHOEF WEDS G. MAURICE HECKSCHER; St. Bartholomew's Thronged with Guests for the Ceremony. COUPLE TO TRAVEL ABROAD". The New York Times. 7 February 1907. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  16. ^ Embree, Edwin Rogers (1911). History of the Class of 1906 (Yale University. Class of 1906) VOLUME II. p. 867. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  17. ^ "HARMAN B. VANDERHOEF". The New York Times. 1 September 1941. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  18. ^ "F. B. VANDERHOEF, 82, INVESTMENT BANKER" (PDF). The New York Times. June 16, 1964. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  19. ^ Dunleavy, Virginia; Gyori, Elizabeth. "Rich Cribs: In Old Westbury, a Heckscher lived here, and more". newsday. Retrieved 9 March 2017. A Colonial for sale in Old Westbury has gone by at least three different names over the years. In 1909, it was known as Morse Lodge when it underwent renovations designed by the architectural firm of Little & Browne. Later it was dubbed Upland House after being purchased by Gustave Maurice Heckscher, the aviator and polo enthusiast son of philanthropist August Heckscher.
  20. ^ "Deaths | HOFER--Frances L." The New York Times. 23 April 1978. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  21. ^ "Miss Frances Heckscher to Be Married to Philip Hofer". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. August 7, 1930. p. 8. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  22. ^ "Miss Frances Heckscher And Philip Hofer Married In St. Bartholomew's Chapel". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. November 2, 1930. p. 24. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  23. ^ "Philip Hofer, 86, a Book Collector at Harvard". The New York Times. 12 November 1984. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  24. ^ Jackson, Tommi (March 25, 2004). "HOME OF THE WEEK". Newsday. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  25. ^ a b Pace, Eric (April 7, 1997). "August Heckscher, 83, Dies; Advocate for Parks and Arts". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-25. August Heckscher, a Parks Commissioner under Mayor John V. Lindsay who was long active in public affairs and as a writer, died on Saturday at New York Hospital. He was 83 and lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The cause was heart failure, which he suffered after being admitted to the hospital because he had been having chest pains, his family said.
  26. ^ "CLAUDE CHEVREUX BEGOMES A BRIDE; Daughter of French Official Wed at Union Seminary to August Heckscher 2d". The New York Times. 20 March 1941. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  27. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths HECKSCHER, CLAUDE CHEVREUX". The New York Times. 15 May 2008. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  28. ^ "MAURICE HECKSCHER, KIN OF LATE FINANCIER; IArmy Lieutenant, Ex. Student I at Oxford, Dies in Coast Camp" (PDF). The New York Times. April 27, 1944. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  29. ^ "DIVORCES G.M. HECHSCHER.; Wife Obtains a Decree in Paris From Son of the Philanthropist" (PDF). The New York Times. May 27, 1927. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  30. ^ "MRS. HECKSCHER IN SURPRISE BRIDAL; Daughter of Harman B. Vanderhoef Wed to John M.P. Thatcher at Her Home. THEIR TROTH UNANNOUNCED Bride Is Former Wife of G. Maurice Heckscher, Philanthropist's Son--Bridegroom Is a Lawyer". The New York Times. January 19, 1931. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  31. ^ "'Gay Divorcee' Star Sues for Decree in Reno". Reno Gazette-Journal. December 15, 1933. p. 16. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  32. ^ "Gustave Heckscher Weds Luella Gear, Actress | Son Of Philanthropist Marries Divorced Wife Of "Millionaire Kid."". The Baltimore Sun. September 29, 1927. p. 2. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  33. ^ "Heckscher's Bride Toasted by Friends". Daily News. January 28, 1934. p. 185. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  34. ^ "GUSTAVE HECKSCHER DIVORCED BY WIFE". Daily News. March 24, 1936. p. 520. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  35. ^ "MAURICE HECKSCHER". The Palm Beach Post. June 15, 1967. p. 36. Retrieved 19 February 2019.