Ben Heller

SHARON — Ben Heller, 93, of New York City and Sharon, died peacefully in his sleep on April 24, 2019. 

From 1950 to 1970, he was president of Heller Jersey,  a textile manufacturing firm. 

He was best known for his early pioneering of the Abstract Expressionist Art Movement, having been one of the first to befriend and champion Pollock, Rothko, Newman, de Kooning, Motherwell, Johns and Still, among others. In the 1960s he amassed the finest collection of these artists’ works in his apartment, which Rothko referred to as “the Frick of the West Side.” In Pollock’s later life, his wife, Lee Krasner, referred to Heller as his “closest friend.” 

A graduate of the Fieldston School and Bard College and a World War II cavalry vet, he was president of Young Audiences, bringing classical music to students. 

As a resident of East Hampton he was a founding member of the Artists & Writers softball game. 

In Connecticut he served as president of the board of the Sharon Hospital. 

He was a loving husband to his wife, Pat, and beloved father to three daughters, Patti (and her husband, Peter), Deedy (and her husband, Ken) and Kyra (and her husband, Kevin); three sons, Woody (and his wife, Beth), Rob and Nikko (and his wife, Gabriela); 11 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. 

A tribute in his honor was held April 25 at the Museum of Modern Art. 

Memorial donations may be made to Sharon Hospital in his name.