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Bernard J. Reis papers, circa 1913-1983

Biographical Note

Bernard J. Reis (1895-1978) was an accountant and art collector in New York, as well as the exector of Mark Rothko's estate.
Reis was born in New York City, in 1895. He received a degree in Commercial Science from New York University in 1915 and graduated from the New York University School of Law in 1918. He passed the New York State Bar Examination but was unable to complete the required one year clerkship as he was supporting his parents financially, and subsequently became a Certified Public Accountant in 1921.
Reis and his wife, Rebecca, built a collection of art in their home, which they opened for charity tours starting in 1948. During this time, Reis became acquainted with many individuals involved in the art world. He developed friendships with art collector Peggy Guggenheim and artists Marc Chagall and Mark Rothko. Reis served as a director for Art of This Century Films and the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation, as well as Guggenheim's personal financial advisor and confidant.
Following the death of Mark Rothko in 1970, Reis was named one of the executors of his estate. The estate was largely managed by the Mark Rothko Foundation, of which Reis was a director. Reis and the other executors entered into an agreement with Marlborough Gallery to sell Rothko's paintings, and in 1971, Mark Rothko's daughter, Kate, accused the estate and gallery of fraudulent practices and sued to release the estate from the sale agreement. The case was not fully resolved until after Reis's death in 1978.