Gilbert Hart Kinney passed away peacefully at home in New York on Nov. 16, 2020, at the age of 89. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Ann, and two daughters, Sarah Kinney Contomichalos of New York City and Athens, Greece, and Eleanor Hart Kinney of Bremen, his son-in-law Gerassimo Contomichalos and his six grandchildren, Eloise, Ridgely and Anna Kelly and Alexandra, Dimitri and Sofia Contomichalos. Gilbert was born in New York City on May 11, 1931, to Gilbert Kinney and Anna Hart Kinney. Gilbert attended elementary school at the Arizona Desert School, graduated from St. Paul’s School in 1948, spent a year at Le Rosey in Switzerland and graduated from Yale with a BA in 1953 and an MA in 1954. He served for four years in the U.S. Navy as an air intelligence officer with a squadron that rotated between San Diego and Iwakuni, Japan. Gilbert then joined the Foreign Service of the U.S. State Department, serving in Tokyo, Japan 1960-1962; Saigon, Vietnam 1962-1964; and Surabaya, Indonesia, 1969-1972, interspersed with periods in Washington, D.C. During 1972-1973, the State Department sent him to the Kennedy School at Harvard for Asian Studies. While at Harvard he audited his first course in art history.
He retired from the Foreign Service in 1974 and devoted the rest of his career to the arts and philanthropy. He built a museum-quality private collection focusing on The New York School and Himalayan and Southeast Asian bronze sculpture. He also served as life trustee and chief executive officer of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., chairman of the board of the Archives of American Art and of the American Federation of the Arts and longtime member of the Yale Art Gallery Board and the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Gilbert loved his involvement with the arts, was devoted to Yale with service as a class agent, chairman of the Yale Alumni Fund and recipient of the Yale Medal in 1997. Gilbert treasured his summers in Northeast Harbor, where he was able to spend most summers starting at the age of 2 playing tennis, sailing his Luder, The Hasty Hart, and attending the Pot and Kettle, where he served as president, 1989-1993. He touched so many people with his curiosity, kindness and enthusiasm and was a true gentleman. He would want to be celebrated for these traits and his love and devotion to his family. He gave all of us a wonderful life and we will both miss him terribly and remember him with love and joy. A private service was held at his church in New York, St. Vincent Ferrer, with burial in Northeast Harbor.