A Tribute by George Wachter

New York | 29 January 2021

O ver the past two decades, Hester Diamond became much more than a business acquaintance to me—she became a real friend. We first met during the mid-1990s, when she developed an interest in Old Master Paintings and Sculpture. She had previously built an incredible collection of Impressionist & Modern Art and decorated her home with 18th- and 19th-century furniture. But once she began collecting Old Masters, Hester decided she wanted a totally different look for her apartment. She created a contemporary ambiance with colorful modern furniture and decorated her walls with extraordinary Renaissance and Medieval works of art and beautiful minerals. The overall feeling was incredibly chic and almost otherworldly—but one could almost describe Hester herself as otherworldly.

Hester and I traveled together many times. We once took Hester and her third husband Dave to the English countryside for four days, where we toured beautiful homes and visited incredible collections. Hester was interested in and enthusiastic about every aspect of the trip and, despite the fact that she was already struggling with her mobility, she was constantly upbeat and she was an intrepid traveler. This was not surprising, considering that she spent months living in Asia when she was in her 80s. Hester was also a person who could become friends with anyone. She had an incredible ability to bond with people of every age and from every walk of life, and she was always invited to the hippest events. Every dinner party at Hester’s was new and exciting due to her constantly broadening group of acquaintances and her intriguing acquisitions—whether they were marvelous minerals, contemporary pieces by Bill Viola or Dustin Yellin, or intricate Northern Renaissance sculptures.

Hester was unlike anyone else I knew. Her fearless spirit, her ability to make decisions based on her beliefs and desires and not outside opinions, her constant search for interesting works of art to buy or new fields of interest to pursue and her dignity and grace in the face of the curveballs that life threw at her made her a real presence and a force of life, and she is someone whom I miss deeply.

One unforgettable story, which I shared in the memory book at her memorial, is an example of the way that Hester never stopped pursuing her passions. A few months before her death, while she was suffering at a clinic in Germany, Hester somehow found the energy to telephone bid for a pair of sculptures in a Sotheby’s auction in Paris. She ended up being the underbidder for the lot and she bid multiples of the estimate, up to almost $2 million, even though she had never seen the sculptures in person.

It is an honor and a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to share Hester’s visionary collection.

About the Author

George Wachter

Chairman, North and South America
Co-Chairman, Old Master Paintings Worldwide