Stephen Carlton Clark, Sr.
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About Stephen Carlton Clark, Sr. DSM (founder of the Baseball Hall of Fame)
Stephen Carlton Clark, Sr. DSM, (August 29, 1882 – September 17, 1960) was an American art collector, newspaper publisher, benefactor and founder of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
He was the son of Alfred Corning Clark and grandson of Edward Clark, who was a founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company.
Stephen Clark graduated from Yale with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1903 and was awarded in 1957 an honorary degree of Doctor of Human Letters. and became a director of the Singer Manufacturing Company. He founded the Clark Foundation to further his philanthropies.
In 1922 he received a Distinguished Service Medal for his service in World War I as a lieutenant-colonel.
In 1909, Stephen Clark and his brother, Edward Severin Clark, built the Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, New York.
He was the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Modern Art from 1939 to 1946, and was a director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He previously had been elected to the New York State Assembly in 1910. During his lifetime he served on numerous corporate boards.
Stephen was survived by his wife, Susan Vanderpoel Clark (née Hun), sons Stephen C. Clark, Jr. and Alfred Clark.
The Stephen Clark Fund, established in 1960 with a bequest from his estate, supports scholarships and stipends given at the discretion of International House.
Art Collection and donations
Upon his death his will distributed many significant works of art of many museums. Yale, for example, received forty such paintings.
In May 2009 a lawsuit arose with a claim in reference to one work donated by Stephen to Yale University - Vincent van Gogh's "The Night Café" from 1888.
Pierre Konowaloff, heir to his great-grandfather's estate (Ivan Morozov) alleged in a suit that "The Night Café" was taken by the Soviet government in 1920. It was acquired by Clark in 1933 and donated in 1960.
Konowaloff's counterclaim suit against Yale argued that Yale should have questioned the propriety of Clark's purchase, and that the court cannot deem the university to be the painting's rightful owner. "Stephen C. Clark either had actual knowledge, or reasonably should have known, that Russia had no legal title to the painting when he sought to acquire it in 1933."