Emily Pulitzer's $45 Million Gift to St. Louis Art Museum Remains Talk -- For Now


Emily Pulitzer in the '80s
  • Emily Pulitzer in the '80s
Online magazine Slate is out with its annual ranking of the nation's 60 biggest philanthropists. Art connoisseur and former newspaper magnate Emily Rauh Pulitzer is the only St. Louisan to make this year's list.

Pulitzer earned her spot last October when she gave $45 million and 31 pieces of art (valued at around $180 million) to the Harvard University Museum. At the time, Pulitzer told the Post-Dispatch that she was also in discussions to give a "parallel gift" to the Saint Louis Art Museum.

Today the art museum is guarded about when -- or if -- that gift will come through.

A few years ago Pulitzer did commit $10 million toward SLAM's capital campaign to build a $125-million expansion onto its existing building in Forest Park. In November the museum announced that the expansion project was on hold due to to the "current disruption in financial markets."

A spokeswoman for the museum, Leigh Hamer, declined to speculate today on the parallel gift that Emily mentioned after giving Harvard $45 million. "The Saint Louis Art Museum expresses its enthusiastic gratitude to Emily Rauh Pulitzer for a lifetime of devoted support and service," says Hamer.

Hamer then suggested I call Emily Pulitzer myself. I suppose I could, but seeing how Pulitzer has never called me back for any story I've ever written concerning her, I'm not sure how much good that would do.

As I wrote back in 2005, Emily Pulitzer was working as a curator at the St. Louis museum in 1978 when she married Post-Dispatch publisher and editor Joseph Pulitzer III. When he died in 1993, Emily received four million shares of Pulitzer Inc. stock worth about $124 million. Her step-son, Joseph Pulitzer IV, got next to nothing. 

Say what you will about Emily, she's no fool when it comes to finances. In 2005 Emily and other major shareholders banded together to sell Pulitzer Inc. (publisher of the Post-Dispatch) for $64 a share to Iowa-based Lee Enterprises. Emily Pulitzer is said to have earned $400 million from the sale. Lee's stock, meanwhile, has dropped from $42 per share to under 50 cents today. Seriously.

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