The exceptional Paolo Veronese painting “Venus Disarming Cupid” (ca. 1560) was gifted to the Worcester Art Museum on August 14 by collector and interior designer Hester Diamond, in whose Upper East Side apartment the prized painting can be seen hanging in the above image from a 2010 HighStreet profile. In addition to her exceptional art collection, Diamond is known as the mother of Mike Diamond, aka Mike D, one of the members of pioneering rap trio the Beastie Boys.
Mike D was born to Hester and Harold Diamond, Beastie Boys fan site Beastiemania.com notes. Harold Diamond was an art dealer, and the couple amassed a significant collection of modern European art before his death in 1982. In 2004 Hester sold six works from their collection through Sotheby’s, which were valued at about $60 million in total. The works included paintings by Piet Mondrian, Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso, and Fernand Léger, as well as a Constantin Brancusi sculpture.
“These six Modern masterworks from the collection of Hester Diamond rank among the best to have appeared on the market in the last 30 years,” Sotheby’s co-director of Imp-mod art Charles Moffett said at the time. “Together, Ms. Diamond and her late husband, Harold, had an unerring eye for quality. They focused their collecting on only the finest examples by any given artist.”
Hester said she was selling those modern pieces to help fund her interest in collecting Renaissance art. One of her prized possessions in this category is the Veronese, which now heads to the Worcester Art Museum, where her stepdaughter Rachel Kaminsky is a board member.
“I have two motives for giving this painting to Worcester,” Diamond said in a statement. “First, it is an opportunity to honor my stepdaughter, Rachel Kaminsky, who joined the Museum Board in 2012. Beyond that, I have always believed that the best public home for a work of art is within an institution where it adds something new to the collection and helps bring in new audiences. Over the years, my collection has evolved, incorporating art from many periods, genres and styles. The Worcester Museum’s willingness to explore new ideas for encouraging audiences of every age to think differently about art reflects the arc of my own collecting.”
— Benjamin Sutton
(Top image via HighStreet Culture. Bottom image: Paolo Veronese, “Venus Disarming Cupid,” circa 1560. Gift of Hester Diamond. Courtesy the Worcester Art Museum.)