Victor Hammer (businessman)

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Victor Hammer
Born 1901
New York City
Died July 21, 1985
Nationality United States
Education B.A. Princeton University
Spouse(s) Ireene Wicker
Children Nancy Hammer Eilan
Armand Hammer
Parent(s) Julius Hammer
Rose Lipshitz Hammer
Relatives Armand Hammer (brother)
For the painter and typographer, see Victor Hammer.

Victor J. Hammer (b. 1901 in New York City, d. July 21, 1985) was a businessman, founder and owner of Hammer Galleries in New York City, and philanthropist.

Early life and education[edit]

Hammer was born in New York City, to Ukrainian-born Jewish immigrants, Julius and Rose (Lipshitz) Hammer.[1][2] His father came to the United States from Odessa in the Russian Empire (today Ukraine) in 1875, and settled in The Bronx, where he ran a general medical practice and five drugstores. Victor Hammer attended Princeton University, where he graduated in 1921 with a degree in Art History.[3][4] His older brother was businessman Armand Hammer.


He was business partner to his brother Armand on several business ventures, including Hammer Galleries in New York City, founded in 1928 as a way to funnel profits made in Soviet Russia out of that country.[5] At one point, British Intelligence believed Hammer Galleries was a front for Soviet Intelligence.[6] The Hammer brothers had been in contact with Soviet authorities for a number of reasons, such as famine relief as well as when the Soviets sought a buyer for the treasures of the Hermitage Museum as a way to earn hard currency.[7] Victor was responsible for acquisitions for Hammer Galleries, including the so-called Romanov Treasures and Fabergé eggs.[4][8] In 1937, Time Magazine described Victor and Armand as "Two of the most startling characters in the U. S. art world are the Brothers Armand and Victor Hammer, one with a medical degree, both friends of Soviet Russia."[9]


He was a prolific philanthropist. Alongside his brothers Harry and Armand, he purchased the Roosevelt estate on Campobello Island in New Brunswick and donated it to the United States and Canada as the countries' first joint park, known as Roosevelt Campobello International Park[10]

Personal life[edit]

Hammer was married to Ireene Wicker; they had two children: Nancy Hammer Eilan; and Armand Hammer.[11]


  1. ^ Names of parents
  2. ^ Epstein, Edward Jay (1998). Dossier: the secret history of Armand Hammer. Orion Business. p. 34. ISBN 0752813862. 
  3. ^ "Victor Hammer '21". Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  4. ^ a b "The Armand Hammer Collection". Archived from the original on July 3, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  5. ^ "Gallery News". Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  6. ^ Epstein, Edward Jay (1999-09-09). Dossier: The Secret History of Armand Hammer (paperback ed.). Da Capo Press. p. 152. ISBN 978-0-7867-0677-8. British Intelligence ... had even monitored the movements of his brother Victor in Egypt (then a British protectorate) on the suspicion that the Hammer Galleries were a front for the Soviet intelligence service. 
  7. ^ "Collecting for his country: Robert Oresko applauds a definitive biography of Andrew Mellon, which illuminates his key role in the creation of the National Gallery in Washington, DC". Retrieved 2008-09-30. [dead link]
  8. ^ "T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History Collection interview of Virginia Carmouche". Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  9. ^ "Hammer Icons". Time. 1937-08-16. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  10. ^ "Remarks at the Signing of the Roosevelt Campobello International Park Agreement". Retrieved 2008-09-30. Among those present were the Hammer brothers who had earlier purchased Campobello, summer home of President Roosevelt, from his son Elliott. Dr. Armand Hammer, of Los Angeles, president of the Occidental Petroleum Corporation, and co-owner with his brothers, Harry and Victor, of the Hammer Galleries in New York City, donated Campobello Island to the United States and Canada in the hope that it would be used as a meeting place for conferences to further strengthen the relationship between the two countries. 
  11. ^ Los Angeles Times: "Art Dealer Victor J. Hammer, Armand's Brother, Dies" July 24, 1985

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