Sam J. Wagstaff Biography

Art Collector (1921–1987)
Sam J. Wagstaff was an important art curator and collector of photography. He was also a companion and benefactor of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.


Sam J. Wagstaff was born in New York City on November 4, 1921. He studied at Yale, served in the U.S. Navy during WWII and studied Renaissance art at New York University. Wagstaff worked as a curator at both the Wadsworth Atheneum and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Additionally, he developed an interest in photographic art and helped establish the career of Robert Mapplethorpe. Wagstaff sold his photography collection to the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1984. He died of AIDS-related pneumonia on January 21, 1987, in New York City.

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