Lee Annenberg died yesterday. Here’s an excerpt from the obituary in the New York Times:
Mrs. Annenberg inherited $2 billion, succeeded her husband as chairman and president of the foundation, became a trustee emeritus of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was on the boards of the New York Metropolitan Opera, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Orchestra and other organizations. On Mr. Annenberg’s death in 2002, the $1 billion Annenberg art collection was given to the Metropolitan Museum.
She received many awards, but was especially pleased in 2004 when Queen Elizabeth II named her an honorary Commander of the British Empire for contributions to British-American relations. There was a back story. In 1969, when President Richard M. Nixon named her husband ambassador to Britain, the British press was generally unreceptive, calling him a pompous businessman with political connections and no diplomatic skills.
But Mrs. Annenberg, almost single-handedly, turned British opinion around, not with lavish parties but with a project that won acclaim. She renovated Winfield House, the 35-room ambassador’s residence in London, for under $1 million. The dowdy old Regent’s Park manse acquired Chippendale tables with inlaid satinwood, Lowestoft china, Ming chests, and, from the Annenberg collections, three Monets, two Gauguins, five Cézannes, two van Goghs, three Renoirs and a Toulouse-Lautrec.
Leonore Annenberg, Philanthropist, Dies at 91 (New York Times)