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Jeffrey Paley, Journalist, Gallerist and Investor, Dies at 82

Jeffrey Paley, Journalist, Gallerist and Investor, Dies at 82

This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

Jeffrey Paley had been working as a reporter at The New York Herald Tribune when the paper closed in 1966. He was determined to become a columnist in Europe but didn’t have a news outlet to write for. So he climbed into his car and drove around the Northeast, stopping in at newspapers to see if they would like to pick up his column.

Dozens of them — papers in Quincy, Mass., Allentown, Pa., and elsewhere — did. Based in Paris, he wrote about world affairs and the economy, making typed copies of his column with carbon paper and mailing them off to his client papers, some of which boasted that he was their “special correspondent.”

Journalism was just the first of three careers that Mr. Paley pursued, the others being art gallerist and private investor.

He died of complications of the coronavirus on Feb. 27 at a hospital in Manhattan, his wife, Valerie Paley, said. He was 82.

Mr. Paley was born on Aug. 11, 1938, in Chicago. He was adopted that year by William S. Paley, the founder and chairman of CBS Inc., and his father’s first wife, the philanthropist Dorothy (Hart) Hearst. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1947, and soon afterward William Paley married the glamorous Barbara Cushing Mortimer, known as Babe.

Jeffrey was raised in the swirl of high society, primarily in Manhattan, and graduated from Harvard in 1960 with a degree in English. He went to law school for a year at Columbia before embarking for Europe, where he first worked for Granada Television, writing scripts for “Coronation Street,” the long-running British soap opera. He then worked as a news editor and op-ed writer at The International Herald Tribune in Paris.

Later, as a columnist in Paris, he traveled extensively, including to India, where he began collecting Indian miniatures, small paintings that often illustrated religious and secular texts. His collection was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum in 1974.

He also developed an interest in showing art. Inspired by the creative possibilities of the old industrial lofts in the SoHo section of Manhattan, he bought a building on Wooster Street in 1969 and established the Paley and Lowe Gallery there. One of the earliest exhibition spaces in the neighborhood, it featured the work of young artists, especially women, including Pat Steir, Mary Heilmann and Mia Westerlund Roosen.

To support the artists, he began investing in the stock market, exercising his interest in economics. He received his master’s degree in that field from the New School in 1976 and went on to develop a third career as an independent private investor in the stock market.

A brief early marriage ended in divorce in 1969. Mr. Paley later married Valerie Ritter; now Dr. Paley, she is the senior vice president and chief historian at the New-York Historical Society.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Paley is survived by a son, Austin; a daughter, Elianne Paley; a sister, Hilary Califano; his stepsisters Joy Hirshon Ingham and Amanda Burden; a stepbrother, Stanley G. Mortimer 3rd; a half brother, William Cushing Paley; and a half sister, Kate Cushing Paley.

In his later years he devoted himself to matters of civil liberties and climate change and maintained a second home on Nantucket. Dr. Paley said her husband had felt alone much of his life and had cherished the family they had created.

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