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Stuart Pivar

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Stuart Pivar
Born1930 (age 93–94)
Brooklyn, New York
EducationHofstra University 1951
OccupationArt collector
Known forChemtainer Industries, founder
New York Academy of Art, founder

Stuart Pivar (born 1930) is an American art collector[1][2] from Brooklyn, New York known for being one of the founders of the New York Academy of Art along with Andy Warhol.[3] Trained as a scientist, he has long endorsed the study of anatomy and need for artists to acquire technical skills. Pivar grew his fortune in the plastics industry and is also the author of several books.

Early life and education


Stuart Pivar was born 1930 in Brooklyn, New York to a father who imported velvet ribbons and a mother known for being "intensely style-conscious".[1] Pivar speaks Yiddish and was brought up in a Jewish family.[4] He began collecting objects at age 7, starting with insects in Central Park, and later bottle caps on Kings Highway[4] at age 8.[1] He spent time at a summer camp in Kingston, New York. Pivar attended Brooklyn Technical High School before going on to earn a B.Sc in chemistry at Hofstra University, graduating in 1951.[5]



In 1959, Pivar founded Chemtainer Industries, a business that specialised in bulk-storage plastic containers.[1] As an inventor, he made a large fortune in plastics. While remaining active in the plastics industry, he became an independently wealthy investor and buyer on the art scene.[6]

New York art world


At The Factory in the early 1970s, Pivar met Andy Warhol who became one of his closest longtime friends.[1] With Warhol he would go on regular shopping trips to buy "masterpieces", which could be objects bought anywhere, from a high-end auction house to a fleamarket.[7] After the artist's death in 1987, Pivar recalled that "Andy Warhol loved to buy art. We used to go shopping together for it for a few hours practically every day in the past couple of years."[8]

Pivar was a collector of 19th-century academic art at a time when it was unfashionable.[9] A scholar of the work of the sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye, he wrote "The Barye Bronzes: A Catalogue Raisonne" in 1974, a collation of critical commentary on all the sculptor's known works.[10][11]

Pivar endorsed the reintroduction of traditional skills into art school curricula, including the study of human and animal anatomy. With Warhol, he helped to found the New York Academy of Art in 1979, becoming one of its board members. The academy opposed abstract art and promoted traditional skills. According to Eliot Goldfinger, Pivar "strongly supported the acquisition of an anatomical collection of comparative skeletons, related artwork, anatomical models and charts, and the use of dissection as part of the curriculum."[12] He donated over $1.2 million to the Academy during his involvement with it.[13]

Pivar resigned from the Academy in 1994 and complained that he had been "lied to and outmaneuvered" by other senior figures at the institution. A report placed most of the blame on his "disruptive, angry and abusive" behavior for problems at the institution.[13] Pivar attempted to sue the Academy for $50 million, claiming that he had been caused "emotional and mental distress" and that he had been ostracised for pointing out falsification of financial records and employment of illegal immigrants.[14] Pivar has stated that he resigned from the Academy Board along with Caroline Newhouse.[14]

Pivar is a life long art collector.[15]

Pivar was also a well known friend of the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, however the two had a falling out prior to Epstein facing charges for sex crimes.[16][17] Pivar corroborated the account of Maria Farmer, a graduate of the New York Academy of Art in 1995, who stated that she had informed him about her abuse at the hands of Epstein in 1996.[17] According to Pivar, this was when the friendship with Epstein ended. In the interview, Pivar described Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre as a "16-year-old trollop."[17]

Biological theories


Beginning with his book Lifecode in 2004 Pivar has published novel claims about the evolution of species. He asserts that the body form of species are encoded not in DNA but in the patterned structure of a primordial germ plasm.[18][19] However, critics have stated that Pivar's proposed developmental sequences bear no resemblance to anything actually observed during embryological development.[19] In his book on the demarcation problem, Nonsense on Stilts, Massimo Pigliucci says that he and his graduate students received "more or less threatening" emails from Pivar complaining that his non-novel theory (written in quotes) of form was not being taken seriously.[20] On his blog "Pharyngula", developmental biologist PZ Myers reviewed Lifecode and concluded that it was "a description of the development and evolution of balloon animals".[21] In 2007 Pivar attempted to sue Seed Media, whose ScienceBlogs hosted "Pharyngula", for describing him as "classic crackpot",[22] but the case was withdrawn after ten days.[23] [24] On July 5, 2016 a scientific paper titled The Origin of the Vertebrate Body Plan in the Geometric Patterns in the Embryonic Blastula was published in the peer-reviewed journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology identifying Stuart Pivar as the principal investigator. [25]


  • Edelman, D.B.; McMenamin, M.; Sheesley, P.; Pivar, S. (2016). "Origin of the vertebrate body plan via mechanically biased conservation of regular geometrical patterns in the structure of the blastula". Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology. 121 (3): 212–244. doi:10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2016.06.007. PMID 27392530.
  • Pivar, S. (2011). "The origin of the vertebrate skeleton". International Journal of Astrobiology. 10 (1): 45–65. Bibcode:2011IJAsB..10...45P. doi:10.1017/s147355041000025x. S2CID 85073679.
  • Pivar, S. (2009). On the Origin of Form. North Atlantic Books.
  • Pivar, S. (2004). Lifecode. Ryland Press.
  • Pivar, S. (1974). The Barye Bronzes. Antique Collectors' Club.


  1. ^ a b c d e Steinberg, Claudia (2004-09-09). "Two Scientists Caught in Amber". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-02-13.
  2. ^ Tully, Judd (April 10, 2018). "Art collector who perished in Trump Tower blaze remembered as 'expert' in Pop art". The Art Newspaper. Retrieved 2020-02-13.
  3. ^ "On the Origin of Form – Author". www.ontheoriginofform.com. Retrieved 2011-09-18.
  4. ^ a b Fishman, Boris (November 26, 2004). "Dustup Offers Rare Peek at Trade in Hate Art". The Forward. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  5. ^ Pivar, Stuart (2009). On the Origin of Form: Evolution by Self-Organization. North Atlantic Books. p. 122. ISBN 978-1-55643-886-8. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  6. ^ Paul Alexander, Death and disaster: the rise of the Warhol empire and the race for Andy's millions, Villard Books, 1994, p.14.
  7. ^ Alexander, Paul (27 January 1992). "What happened to Andy's Treasures?". New York: 28.
  8. ^ Russell W. Belk, Collecting in a consumer society, Psychology Press, 1995, p.72
  9. ^ Art & antiques, Volume 22, 1999, p.99
  10. ^ Day, H.T.; Sturges, H. (1987). Joslyn Art Museum, paintings & sculpture from the European & American collections. University of Nebraska Press. p. 77.
  11. ^ 19th century European paintings, drawings and sculpture. Sotheby's. 1996. p. 265.
  12. ^ Eliot Goldfinger, Animal anatomy for artists: the elements of form, Oxford University Press, 2004, p.ix.
  13. ^ a b Connolly, J. (8 April 1996). "How could it be that board members at the New York Academy of Art were too busy fighting with each other to notice that $175,000 was missing?". New York: 24.
  14. ^ a b New York Media, LLC (1 Dec 1997). "Stuart Pivar's New $50 million Suit". New York: 25.
  15. ^ Kenney, Nancy (July 19, 2019). "Collector says he was duped into selling Brancusi sculpture". www.theartnewspaper.com. Retrieved 2020-02-13.
  16. ^ Nally, Leland (August 23, 2019), "Jeffrey Epstein, My Very, Very Sick Pal", Mother Jones, retrieved 2019-11-10
  17. ^ a b c Davis, Ben (August 26, 2019), "Here Are the 3 Most Disturbing Takeaways From Mother Jones's Interview With Jeffrey Epstein's Art Advisor and Former 'Best Pal'", artnet news, retrieved 2019-11-10
  18. ^ On the Origin of Form: Evolution by Self-Organization, Stuart Pivar, North Atlantic Books, 2009 ISBN 1-55643-886-9
  19. ^ a b ILAOL introduction by Mark Macmenamin
  20. ^ Pigliucci, Massimo (May 15, 2010). Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk. University of Chicago Press. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-226-66787-4.
  21. ^ Myers, PZ (July 17, 2007), "Lifecode: From egg to embryo by self-organization", Pharyngula (blog), ScienceBlogs, archived from the original on September 6, 2007, retrieved October 5, 2011
  22. ^ Myers, PZ (July 12, 2007), "Lifecode", Pharyngula (blog), ScienceBlogs, archived from the original on September 7, 2007, retrieved October 5, 2011
  23. ^ Delta, George B.; Matsuura, Jeffrey H. (2009). Law of the Internet, Volume 1, 2009 supplement. Aspen Publishers. pp. 11–12.
  24. ^ Keim, Brandon (August 20, 2007), "Pseudoscience not Selling? Just Sue a Science Blogger for Libel", Wired Science, Condé Nast Digital, retrieved October 5, 2011
  25. ^ Edelman, David B.; McMenamin, Mark; Sheesley, Peter; Pivar, Stuart (July 5, 2016). "Origin of the vertebrate body plan via mechanically biased conservation of regular geometrical patterns in the structure of the blastula". Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology. 121 (3): 212–244. doi:10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2016.06.007. PMID 27392530.