Wachter ’73 named chair of Rose Board of Overseers

George Wachter '73

President Fred Lawrence has named George Wachter ‘73, a long-time supporter and friend of the university’s Fine Arts Department, as chair of the Rose Art Museum’s Board of Overseers.

“This is another important step along the path of revitalizing the Rose and I’m extremely pleased to have George join us in this effort. He has a history of supporting the arts at Brandeis and a wealth of knowledge and experience that will help us create a dynamic future for a true gem in the art world,” said Lawrence.

Wachter serves as chairman of Sotheby’s North and South America, co-chairman of Old Master Paintings Worldwide and frequently lectures on old master paintings, or those by skilled European painters who worked before 1800.

Over the years, he has shared his expertise with Brandeis classes on campus and in New York and he is funding the ongoing digitization of the George and Fern Wachter Visual Resources Center collection in the university’s Fine Arts Department, a gift that is modernizing the course and study materials.

He said he was honored when the president approached him about chairing the Rose Board of Overseers.

“I love Brandeis, so I said I would help in any way I could,” said Wachter. “I am delighted that the Rose and the university are moving forward. The museum has an extraordinary collection that is a great draw and I’d like to help maximize what the museum can be. We want to excite students and the campus community, the Waltham community, Boston and beyond.”

Wachter’s appointment comes as the university is conducting an international search for a new museum director, yet another sign of building for the future at the Rose.

Scott Edmiston, director of the Office of the Arts and chair of the search committee, said the process is well under way. "The search committee has been working for several months and we have some extraordinary candidates, so we're very optimistic," he added.

Last October, Brandeis celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Rose Art Museum with a gala re-opening that showcased a stunning $1.7 million renovation and two new exhibitions that highlighted the rich collection of 20th-century and contemporary art, including works by Andy Warhol, Ellsworth Kelly, Willem de Kooning, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist, Jenny Holzer and Robert Rauschenberg.

Four months earlier, the university reached a settlement with the four museum supporters who had filed suit against Brandeis in 2009 over its handling of the museum during the financial crisis. The settlement agreement confirms that the Rose is and will remain a university museum open to the public and that Brandeis has no plans to sell artwork.

Stephen R. Reiner, a member of the Board of Trustees who previously served as chair of the Rose Board of Overseers, hailed Wachter's appointment. "He knows the art world, he knows museums, he's a Brandeis alum, and he's excited to join in this effort," said Reiner.

Nancy Scott, chair of the Fine Arts Department, said, “Without George’s vision and support for our digital project, we would not be able to teach our students the way we teach today. All of our fine arts classes are now taught digitally. Prior to this, we were all using the old techniques: the slides were sitting in carousels that Kodak wasn’t going to be making any more. George saw the need and ushered us into the 21st century.
“He’s very funny, with a keen wit and sense of humor,” she added. “He’s kept faith with the university through thick and thin and he cares passionately about the arts at Brandeis. He’s always willing to share his expertise as a person of noted reputation in the art world. He’s been a wonderful friend.”

After graduating from Brandeis in 1973 with a degree in art history, Wachter completed Sotheby’s Works of Art Course in London and joined the Old Master Paintings Department. He has held several senior positions throughout his tenure at Sotheby’s.

In addition to being a Brandeis alumnus, Wachter is also a Brandeis parent. His son, Abraham, is a member of the class of 2012.

Brandeis had an agreement with Sotheby’s to explore the potential of long-term loans of artwork from the Rose collection. Senior Vice President for Communications and External Affairs Andrew Gully said the arrangement, which began in June 2010, expired at the end of December 2011. “We greatly appreciate Sotheby’s advice and counsel during that period,” he added.

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