Andrew Mellon Paved Way for Art Donors, Scholar Says
Robbins, Richard, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Andrew W. Mellon thought he might escape history's spotlight, but more than 70 years after his death, Mellon is known as the man who created the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. -- a supreme act of entrepreneurship, said biographer and British historian David Cannadine.
Cannadine -- the speaker for the 11th-annual St. Clair Lecture next Wednesday at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg -- characterizes Mellon as an "enabler" both in business and in philanthropy.
Andrew was the son of Thomas Mellon, the Pittsburgh banker who emigrated to the United States from Ireland and was determined to move from the family farm to the world of business in 19th-century America; at the time, business was open to men of ambition and brains.
Cannadine said Andrew Mellon was cut from the same mold as his father -- with one big exception.
Although Thomas Mellon held on to his money, Andrew late in his life made the fateful decision to give a large chunk of his tremendous fortune away. At his death in 1937, he was still worth about $20 million -- small in comparison to the billions of dollars he earned during a lifetime of business in Pittsburgh.
During his business career, Andrew Mellon followed the simple rule of listening to good ideas presented to him by others and then backing the ideas with the money at his disposal. Mellon, therefore, was responsible for the creation of such American business giants as Alcoa, Koppers and Gulf, said Cannadine. …