Stephen Carlton Clark

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For those of a similar name, see Stephen Clark (disambiguation).
Stephen Carlton Clark
Born August 29, 1882
Cooperstown, New York,
United States
Died September 17, 1960
New York City, United States
Residence New York City,
Cooperstown, New York
Education Yale University
Occupation Businessman, newspaper publisher, art collector, philanthropist
Known for Founder: Baseball Hall of Fame
Political party Republican Party
Board member of Singer Sewing Machine Co., Baseball Hall of Fame,
Museum of Modern Art,
New York State Historical Association,
Metropolitan Museum of Art,
New York Trust Company,
St. Luke's Hospital,
Roosevelt Hospital
Spouse(s) Susan Vanderpoel Hun
Children Stephen Jr., Alfred, Elizabeth[1]
Parent(s) Alfred Corning Clark &
Elizabeth Scriven

Stephen Carlton Clark, Sr. (August 29, 1882 – September 17, 1960) was an American art collector, newspaper publisher, benefactor and founder of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.


He was the son of Alfred Corning Clark and grandson of Edward Clark, who was a founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. His brother, Robert Sterling Clark, also an art collector, founded the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Stephen Clark graduated from Yale with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1903 and was awarded in 1957 an honorary degree of Doctor of Human Letters. and became a director of the Singer Manufacturing Company. He founded the Clark Foundation to further his philanthropies.

In 1909, Stephen Clark and his brother, Edward Severin Clark, built the Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, New York.[2]

He was a member of the New York State Assembly (Otsego Co.) in 1910.

In 1922 he received a Distinguished Service Medal for his service in World War I as a lieutenant-colonel.

He was the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Modern Art from 1939 to 1946, and was a director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. During his lifetime he served on numerous corporate boards.

He died on September 17, 1960. Stephen was survived by his wife, Susan Vanderpoel Clark (née Hun), sons Stephen C. Clark, Jr. and Alfred Clark.


The Stephen Clark Fund, established in 1960 with a bequest from his estate, supports scholarships and stipends given at the discretion of International House of New York.

Art collection and donations[edit]

Upon his death his will distributed many significant works of art of many museums. Yale, for example, received forty such paintings. The following year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibited the works from his bequest to that institution.[3]

The Night Café[edit]

In May 2009 a lawsuit arose with a claim in reference to one work donated by Stephen to Yale University - Vincent van Gogh's "The Night Café" from 1888. Pierre Konowaloff, heir to his great-grandfather's estate (Ivan Morozov) alleged in a suit that "The Night Café" was taken by the Soviet government in 1920. It was acquired by Clark in 1933 and donated in 1960.

Konowaloff's counterclaim suit against Yale argued that Yale should have questioned the propriety of Clark's purchase, and that the court cannot deem the university to be the painting's rightful owner. "Stephen C. Clark either had actual knowledge, or reasonably should have known, that Russia had no legal title to the painting when he sought to acquire it in 1933."[4]

In September 2011 the District Court in Manhattan granted the Met’s motion to dismiss the suit brought by Pierre Konowaloff[5] 'The Court found that Mr. Konowaloff’s claim would require it to question the validity of the Soviet Union’s taking Cézanne’s portrait of his wife as part of its nationalization of private property after the Russian Revolution, which the Court, under longstanding precedent of the “act of state” doctrine, refused to do. Under that doctrine, the acts of a sovereign government are legitimate, official acts.'[5]


  1. ^ Associated, The (1960-09-30). "CHARITY AND ART WILLED MILLIONS - Stephen Clark Bequeathed Total of $11,675,000 CHARITY AND ART WILLED MILLIONS - Front Page -". Retrieved 2012-03-05. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Exhibition: Masterpieces of Painting and Drawing from the Bequest of the Late Stephen C. Clark (1961, no catalogue).
  4. ^ "Topic Galleries". Retrieved 2012-03-05. 
  5. ^ a b Gilbert, Laura (2012-02-29). "Met Museum Is Rightful Owner Of Cezanne Portrait, Court Decides | The New York Observer". Retrieved 2012-03-05. 

Further reading[edit]

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