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Roy Neuberger dies at 107; money manager was an avid art collector

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Roy Neuberger, a co-founder of money manager Neuberger Berman who traded stocks until he was 101 and was a collector of such American artists as Jackson Pollock, Georgia O'Keeffe and Edward Hopper, has died. He was 107.

He died of natural causes Friday at his New York City home, said his son James A. Neuberger.

"He got to Wall Street in 1929, a few months before the crash. He was 25," his son said. "He worked every day until he was 99."

Neuberger bought about a thousand works of art over the years. Unlike stocks, which he traded for seven decades, Neuberger said he never sold any art.

"It would be a criminal act for me to sell," he told Bloomberg News in 2003, the year he turned 100. "In art I buy because I love the work."

Rather than sell, Neuberger donated works to dozens of U.S. museums. Most of his collection is at the Neuberger Museum of Art, which opened in 1974 in Purchase, N.Y.

"In the beginning, I collected art for a purpose — to help support living artists," Neuberger wrote in "So Far, So Good: The First 94 Years," his 1997 memoir. "Now I am simply a lover of art."

Since 1991, Neuberger had made his home in a seven-room apartment in the Pierre Hotel on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan that he decorated with works by Alexander Calder, Adolph Gottlieb and Milton Avery, among others.

"He loved his life, enjoying both his vocation and avocation," said his son. "I think he loved the fact that he supported living artists."

Roy Rothschild Neuberger was born July 21, 1903, in Bridgeport, Conn. Orphaned at 12, he was raised by his older sister.

He dropped out of New York University after a year, worked at a department store, then dipped into a $30,000 inheritance and sailed for Paris in 1925.

He lived there four years, working for a decorating firm, and became interested in collecting art after reading a biography of Vincent Van Gogh, the great Dutch painter who struggled for his art and sold only a few pictures in his own lifetime.

Neuberger said he became determined to make a "fortune" so that he could buy art and support little-known artists.

Returning to the U.S., he got a job at a Wall Street brokerage months before the stock market crashed in 1929.

He survived the plunge, correctly betting that the popular stock Radio Corp. of America would dive. Prominent businessman Joseph Kennedy and presidential advisor Bernard Baruch were among his early clients.

In 1939, Neuberger opened his own money-management firm, Neuberger Berman, with a partner. He retired a few months after it went public in 1999.

As an active stock trader, Neuberger estimated he was right 70% of the time about the markets. "I enjoy it and I'm pretty good at it," he said on his 100th birthday, "but I make lots of mistakes."

Marie, his wife of 65 years, died in 1997.

In addition to James, he is survived by another son, Roy S. Neuberger; a daughter, Ann Neuberger Aceves; eight grandchildren; and 30 great-grandchildren.

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