Shelby White

Shelby White Wiki – Shelby White Bio

Shelby White, A prominent trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) has come under fire after cops recovered numerous stolen artifacts from her house. According to reports, the confiscated items are worth $69 million and were collected by Shelby White and her late husband Leon Levy over several years.

89 artifacts have reportedly been removed from White’s possession by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Special Antiquities Trafficking Unit in the last two years. An April statement by Manhattan DA Alvin L Bragg, Jr said, “Our investigation into the collector Shelby White has allowed dozens of antiquities that were ripped from their countries of origin to finally return home.”


Shelby White is 85 years old.

She Bought Antiquities in Good Faith

Following the shocking revelation, The New York Post reported that the 85-year-old woman’s attorney Peter Chavkin has asserted that his client bought artifacts “in good faith, at public auction and from dealers they believed to be reputable.” Philippe de Montebello, the Met’s former director, defended Shelby by saying she “is a scholar who bought antiquities in good faith out of a real love and knowledge of the art.”

“And, most importantly, she did not put them away for her sole enjoyment but shared them with a wide public, lending generously to exhibitions worldwide and displaying the core of her collection from her in a solo show at the Met,” Montebello added.

Ken Weine, a Met spokesman, shared, “The Met has been very public in acknowledging that new information brought to light by law enforcement and others has precipitated our decision to devote additional resources to provenance research.”

There is No Way She Did Not Know

However, there were many who were not convinced by White’s apparent innocence as Elizabeth Marlowe, the director of the museum studies program at Colgate University, reportedly said, “There is no way that someone at her level of the market and her depth of collecting and her prominence at the Met — there is no way someone at that level did not know they should be asking for things like export licenses.”

Patty Gerstenblith, an expert on cultural heritage issues and a professor at DePaul University College of Law, added, “Her collecting practices from her do not fit the model of how a museum should be pursuing knowledge and preserving the historical record. I don’t think the good works, the support of archaeological work, outweigh the harm that she caused.”

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Apart from being a Met trustee emeritus, White is also the Leon Levy Foundation’s founding trustee. The foundation “supports organizations in the arts and humanities, nature and gardens, neuroscience research, human rights, and Jewish culture.” Besides, she is a board member of Bard Graduate Center, The Institute for Advanced Study, The Writers Room, The New York Botanical Garden, and the New York University.


The Leon Levy Foundation’s website mentions that White “has written financial articles for publications including The New York Times, Town and Country, Redbook and Forbes. Her book of hers, ‘What Every Woman Should Know About Her Husband’s Money ‘, was published by Random House (1992, 1994),” before adding, “She also serves as Chairman of the Shelby White and Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications at Harvard University.”