(New York, February 13, 2001)—Ashton Hawkins, who served The Metropolitan Museum of Art for 19 years as Secretary and Counsel, and then for 13 years more as Executive Vice President and Counsel to the Trustees, will retire from the
Museum at the end of this month after a career in which he was a pioneer in the field of art law.
Announcement of Mr. Hawkins' retirement was made by James R. Houghton, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan, following today's meeting of the Board's Executive Committee.
"For almost two generations, Ashton has passionately represented the interests of this museum and the work of museums worldwide," said Mr. Houghton. "His counsel has guided us through years of expansion of both the building and the collections at the Met. The entire Board of Trustees thanks him for his years of work and wishes him well. I should add that the Museum has asked him to stay involved as a part-time consultant and we are delighted that he has agreed to do this. I am especially pleased about this new arrangment because of my long-standing friendship with Ashton."
Commented Philippe de Montebello, Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art: "Ashton Hawkins is himself an institution, within an institution he has loved and served with brilliance. The Museum has benefited greatly from his expertise and his professional and personal relationships both within the Museum and in the outside world, and all of us will miss him more than we can imagine. He has been an indelible part of the history of The Metropolitan, and has contributed in no small way to its strength in recent years."
Noted Mr. Hawkins: "The Metropolitan has been an exhilarating place in which to grow up. At the same time it is a place of great traditions and brilliant achievements. The Met family of Trustees, donors, and staff is as wonderful as its superb collections and as a member of that family, it is difficult to leave. However, I am excited and challenged by what lies ahead and happy that I will continue to stay in contact with my many friends there."
Mr. Hawkins announced that he would become Of Counsel to Gersten, Savage
and Kaplowitz, where he will focus on art law, estates and trusts, international legal questions and other issues of concern to collectors, philanthropists, museums, and non-profit institutions.
Mr. Hawkins joined the Metropolitan Museum in 1968 as Assistant Secretary of the Board of Trustees. He became Secretary of the Board and Counsel to the Museum in 1969, and assumed the post of Executive Vice President and Counsel to the Trustees in 1987.
His responsibilities at the Museum included working closely with the Museum's Directors – first Thomas Hoving and, since 1977, Philippe de Montebello -- as well as with Museum trustees and major donors. He was deeply involved with government relations and worked closely with the Museum's senior staff and, particularly, the curators, in a legal and advisory capacity. Mr. Hawkins also advised many outside organizations and institutions including the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and the American Association of Museums (AAM).
Commented Katharine Lee Reid, the Director of the Cleveland Museum of Art,
who also serves as President of the AAMD: "Ashton Hawkins has been a mentor
in the art museum field during a period when art museum governance has developed significantly. He has been most generous in sharing his talents and has had an overview and insight into the art issues of our time that have been a great help to many people. We celebrate him and wish him well."
Throughout his career, Mr. Hawkins has been instrumental in developing the field of art law, especially as it relates to collectors, museums, and the non-profit community. Beginning in the late 1960's, he was part of the group that drafted the UNESCO Treaty on International Movement of Works of Art and in subsequent years, he worked with former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Monyihan and colleagues in the art community to draft the legislation that was enacted in 1983, bringing this UNESCO treaty into effect in the United States.
Mr. Hawkins has served as a guest lecturer at Harvard Law School, the University of Virginia School of Law, the New York University Law School, Columbia Law School, and Cardozo Law School, and for years has been a lecturer and advisor on art law and related issues. For three separate terms, he was a member of the art committee of the Association of the Bar.
Born in New York City in 1937, Mr. Hawkins was educated at Exeter (1955),
Harvard (1959), and Harvard Law School (1962). He began his career in the law with the firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in 1962. From 1965-68 he served as an Assistant Attorney General of the State of New York in the Estates, Trusts & Charities Bureau under Attorney General Louis J. Lefkowitz.
Mr. Hawkins is an active member of the board of trustees of New York's Municipal Art Society, the World Monuments Fund, the Alliance for the Arts, and the Landmarks Preservation Foundation. He also serves on the International Advisory Board of the Wolfsonian in Miami Beach, Florida. From 1985 through 1996, Mr. Hawkins served as Chairman of the Dia Center for the Arts, the New York-based contemporary arts organization. And from 1987 through 1996 he was a member of the Overseer's Committee to Visit Art Museums at Harvard University.
February 13, 2001