Dr. Arthur M. Sackler, 73, a psychiatrist who made a fortune in advertising and publishing, an art collector of breathtaking scope and discernment, and a founder of various museums, wings, galleries and other institutions that keep his pictures and objects in the public eye, died of a heart ailment yesterday at the Harkness Pavilion of Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.
"Great art doesn't belong to anybody. Never did. Never will," Dr. Sackler told The Washington Post in September. "The more successful your collections are, the more they cease to be your property."
Next September, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution is scheduled to open on the Mall. It will house an initial collection of 1,000 pieces of Chinese and Near Eastern art with an appraised value of at least $50 million. The pictures, bronzes, jades, lacquers and ceramics are a small fraction of the Sackler holdings -- and according to Thomas Lawton, the director of the Freer Gallery of Art, their value may be closer to $100 million than $50 million.
Dr. Sackler donated $4 million of the $75 million in construction costs of the project.
The Sackler Gallery is only one example of the doctor's beneficence. Some years ago he established the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery for Early Chinese Stone Sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City and the Metropolitan also has a Sackler Wing. There is an Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at Princeton University and in 1985 the Arthur M. Sackler Museum opened at Harvard University. Last year, the Arthur M. Sackler Museum was dedicated at Beijing University in China.
A biographical sketch compiled by Dr. Sackler's office said that his collections "range over different cultural horizons and media, in Asia from China and India to the Middle East; in Western art ceramics, bronzes and paintings from pre-Columbian and pre-Renaissance periods through the School of Paris."
It notes that he began collecting shortly after graduating from medical school at New York University and that "in the 1940s he focused on pre- and early Renaissance and French Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings. At this time he also actively supported contemporary American painters. In 1950, he started his collection of Asiatic arts, first Chinese ceramics, and then sculpture and paintings."
Dr. Sackler donated a collection of drawings and paintings by the Italian master Piranesi to the Avery Library at Columbia University and it is considered one of the finest of its kind. The same accolade has been offered to his collection of Italian terra cottas, which were displayed at the National Gallery of Art in 1979.
The Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian not only will house a notable collection in its own right, but also will supplement in a special way its next-door neighbor, the Freer Gallery. The Freer has one of the world's finest collection of Chinese art. But its founder, Charles Lang Freer, decreed that nothing be added to it and that none of its treasures go out on loan.
No such restrictions apply to the Sackler. According to Lawton, the Freer's director, the Freer and the Sackler, which are connected by a tunnel, will make a center of Asian art that no scholar in the field will be able to ignore.
The Sackler name is also well-known in medicine and science. There is the Sackler School of Medicine of Tel Aviv University in Israel, the Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Science at New York University, the Arthur M. Sackler Sciences Center at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., and the Arthur M. Sackler Center for Health Communications at Tufts University.
"I used to think that creativity was limited by age," Dr. Sackler told The Post. "But the more time passes, I have come to realize that creativity is not that age-restrained. There are fascinating examples, in terms, let us say, of scientists such as Linus Pauling. Or a choreographer, Martha Graham . . . . In both cases, I think you will find a residual development of irreverence. Not for great achievements, but for conventional wisdom. I once asked Linus Pauling, 'What is the role of heresy in science?' And he looked at me and said, 'Arthur, isn't heresy the source of all real progress?' "
Arthur Mitchell Sackler was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Aug. 22, 1913. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees at NYU.
Dr. Sackler was a pioneer in the use of ultrasound as a diagnostic tool and in histamine therapy for psychiatric disorders.
While he practiced medicine, he began making investments. He bought stocks in pharmaceutical companies and these became the foundation of his fortune. In the 1940s, he joined William Douglas Adams Inc., a medical advertising agency, and in 1947 he bought it.
He later went into the vastly profitable medical publishing field. His publications were printed in 10 languages and his organization had offices in 11 countries. Among periodicals he owned was Medical Tribune.
Forbes magazine once estimated Dr. Sackler's financial worth at "$175 million plus." He lived on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Dr. Sackler's marriages to the former Else Jorgensen and Marietta Lutze ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife, the former Jill Lesley Tully, of New York City; two children by his first marriage, Dr. Carol Ingrid Master of Boston, and Elizabeth Anne Sackler of New York City; two children by his second marriage, Arthur Felix Sackler of New York City and Denise Marica of Venice, Calif.; two brothers, Dr. Mortimer D. Sackler of London, and Dr. Raymond R. Sackler of New York City, and seven grandchildren.