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Paul Mellon : biography

June 11, 1907 - February 1, 1999

Paul Mellon KBE (June 11, 1907 – February 1, 1999) was an American philanthropist and an owner/breeder of thoroughbred racehorses. He is one of only five people ever designated an "Exemplar of Racing" by the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He was co-heir to one of America's greatest business fortunes, the Mellon Bank fortune, created by his grandfather Thomas Mellon, his father Andrew W. Mellon, and his father's brother Richard B. Mellon. In 1957, when Fortune prepared its first list of the wealthiest Americans, it estimated that Paul Mellon, his sister Ailsa Mellon-Bruce, and his cousins Sarah Mellon and Richard King Mellon, were all among the richest eight people in the United States, with fortunes of between 400 and 700 million dollars each (around $ and $ in today's dollars).

Paul Mellon's autobiography, Reflections in a Silver Spoon ISBN 0-688-09723-5, was published in 1992. He died at his home, Oak Spring, in Upperville, Virginia, on February 1, 1999. He was survived by his wife, Rachel (a.k.a. Bunny), his children, Catherine Conover (first wife of John Warner) and Timothy Mellon, and two stepchildren, Stacy Lloyd III and Eliza, Viscountess Moore.

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Paul Mellon was the son of Andrew W. Mellon, US Secretary of the Treasury from 1921 to 1932, and brother of Ailsa Mellon-Bruce. He graduated from The Choate School (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Wallingford, Connecticut, in 1925, where he wrote for the literary magazine and composed the school hymn, and from Yale in 1929, where he was a member of Chi Psi Fraternity, Scroll and Key and served as vice-chairman of the Yale Daily News. He was a great benefactor of his alma maters, donating the Mellon Arts Center and the Mellon (now Icahn) Science Center to Choate, and two residential colleges and the Yale Center for British Art to Yale. After graduating from Yale he went to England to study at Clare College, Cambridge, receiving a BA in 1931, while his father served as the US Ambassador to the Court of St. James's from 1932 to 1933. He was a founding member of the CRABS, the Clare Rugby and Boating Society (one of the oldest Collegiate Gentlemen's societies still active). In 1938 he received an MA from Clare College. He was a major benefactor to Clare College's Forbes-Mellon library, opened in 1986.

Marriage and military service

Mellon returned to Pittsburgh, United States, to work for Mellon Bank and other businesses for six months. In 1935, he married Mary Conover Brown and the couple, who had two children, Catherine and Timothy, moved to Virginia.

He enrolled at St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland in 1940 but six months later joined the United States Army, asking to join the cavalry. Mellon served with the Office of Strategic Services in Europe. He rose to the rank of major and was the recipient of four Bronze Stars.

After his wife Mary's death in 1946 from an asthma attack, he married Rachel Lambert Lloyd, known as "Bunny", the former wife of Stacy Barcroft Lloyd Jr. She is a descendant of the Lambert family who formulated and marketed Listerine and an heiress to the Warner-Lambert corporate fortune (Warner-Lambert is now part of Pfizer, following a 2000 merger). Bunny Mellon is an avid horticulturalist and gardener, whose fondness for French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting, as well as American art, Mellon came to share. By this marriage, he had two stepchildren: Stacy Lloyd III and Eliza Lambert Lloyd (d. 2008; who married and divorced Viscount Moore).

Art collection

While Mellon did not share his father's interest in business, the two found common ground in their love of art and philanthropy. Shortly before Andrew Mellon's death in 1937, construction began on the West Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., for which Andrew Mellon had provided funds. Four years later Paul Mellon presented both the building by John Russell Pope and his father's collection of 115 paintings to the nation. He served on the museum's board for more than four decades: as trustee, as president (twice), as board chair, and as honorary trustee. Mellon commissioned I. M. Pei to build the East Wing and, with his sister Ailsa, provided funds for its construction in the late 1970s. Over the years he and his wife Bunny donated more than 1,000 works to the National Gallery, among them many French and American masterworks.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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