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Meet the Powerhouse Art Dealer Protecting the ‘Most Famous Unknown Artist’s’ Legacy

Frances Beatty lives in a sprawling apartment on the Upper East Side that feels one-half museum, one-half home. Nooks and crannies are plentiful, as are family photos, books and floorboards that opt to creak on occasion. But also at her home, which she shares with her husband Allen Adler, lives an astounding art collection, where sculptures and paintings are displayed in a manner not dissimilar to how one might keep a souvenir from a family holiday. The apartment, like its owner, fizzes with charisma.

So when Ms. Beatty, who is president of Richard L. Feigen & Co. a few blocks down on East 69th Street, opened her door to the Observer this summer it came as no surprise that we started off with a tour. Setting down a cold glass of cranberry spritzer treacherously near a group of framed Old Master prints, the dealer quickly launched into tales of acquiring Western bronzes and 17th century skulls, some of which were rested on an antique table by the front door. Not an inch of wall space is uncovered.

“We have an extremely eccentric collection,” said Ms. Beatty, gesturing to a Goya etching hanging near a Picasso, a Cindy Sherman, and then an entire wall of works by the underground conceptualist Ray Johnson, who is often called “the most famous unknown artist.”