Estelle and Paul Berg at their home in 1994. Photo: Carl Juste.

Estelle Berg (1940–2017)

Estelle Berg, who along with her husband Paul Berg was one of the most influential collectors in South Florida, died last week in Miami according to a report by Elizabeth Koh in the Miami Herald.

The couple began collecting in the 1960s, and many of the works they bought eventually made their way into museum exhibitions throughout the area. Bonnie Clearwater, the director of Nova Southeastern University’s Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, said of the pair: “They were the heart of the South Florida art scene. . . .They were here at the beginning of most of the contemporary spaces around here, long before it was fashionable. It’s because of that dedication and love and support that there is a scene.”

Born Estelle Chevelier in the Bronx, New York City, in 1940, she moved with her family to Miami halfway through high school, and studied English literature at the University of Miami, graduating in 1961. Estelle bought her first pieces while on her honeymoon with Paul in New York City, after walking down Madison Avenue and spotting a gallery showing ceramics by Pablo Picasso.

Estelle taught at the University of Miami and a few local high schools while Paul worked as a graphic designer and, in 1964, he started his own advertising and marketing company, Creative Directors, Inc. She joined as a copywriter and the flourishing business allowed them to pursue their passion for art. The Bergs specifically sought out emerging artists, which was unusual in the earlier days of their collecting. In addition to her husband, Estelle Berg is survived by a son, Andrew, her daughter Karen, and a stepson, Joseph, as well as six grandchildren.