Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty and Edward Hopper House raised $26,300 during a recent event to benefit the Edward Hopper House’s interdisciplinary Arts Education Program, which engages over 500 local public school students in grades K-12.

The Oct. 14 benefit, now in its second year, drew approximately 140 attendees and surpassed the previous year in monies raised by nearly 25 percent.

Guest speakers included Eric Shiner, Sotheby’s senior vice president of contemporary art and a leading scholar on Andy Warhol and Asian contemporary art, who spoke about Edward Hopper’s influence on 20th century artists; and Jason Duchin, co-executive director of Bronx-based DreamYard, a nationally recognized community arts organization that has helped over 15,000 kids by using the arts, digital tools and social justice to transform students, schools and communities. A live auction during the event was conducted by Benjamin Levy, a special guest magician and mind reader, whose accomplishments include performing at the White House.


Guests bid on several items, including the opportunity to attend a Nov. 12 brunch reception for 10 at Sotheby’s auction house in New York to preview priceless works of art during its Impressionist, Modern, Contemporary and American Art sale; a tour of the Whitney Museum of American Art with Farris Wahbeh, director of research resources; tickets to a concert performance by legendary tenor Andrea Bocelli at Madison Square Garden; and dinner for six at the Edward Hopper House prepared by Tappan-based Mimi’s Plate, with a curator tour of Sean Scully’s solo exhibition.

“I believe that art education builds community and instills confidence, especially in youth who may be insecure or bullied by their peers,” said Richard Ellis, owner of Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty. “Art today is not just about paintings and other mediums, but a way to help us navigate in a more creative, out-of-the-box way, from how we create our reports, write our papers, to the way we dress.  It’s been said that the MFA is the new MBA − I believe it!”

Attendees also heard from three local art students who spoke about their work and what art programs have meant in their lives. “One of the most touching moments was hearing local high school students speak about how art classes helped build confidence, friendships and self-esteem,” said Ellis. “This truly reinforces the importance of our mission. I am delighted that we raised about 25 percent more funds at our second annual fundraiser with Edward Hopper House, and I can’t wait for next year’s event, where we hope to raise even more money to benefit art education in public schools.”

The Arts Education Program initially was funded in 2016 with proceeds from a fundraiser sponsored by Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty to benefit Nyack Public Schools, Nanuet School District, Clarkstown Schools, East Ramapo Schools and Sleepy Hollow School District.

“Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty’s generosity has allowed the Edward Hopper House to create and sustain a powerful arts education program,” said Jennifer Patton EdD, executive director of Edward Hopper House. “Touching the lives and supporting the creativity of over 500 students each year has been made possible by this fun and exciting cause auction, not to mention the pleasure of gathering 150 supportive patrons in a beautiful estate overlooking the Hudson!


“Our teen program stole the show that evening, sharing their powerful experience at Edward Hopper House with the audience. One teen even said, “That man is paying to have a catered dinner in Edward Hopper’s House? Wow, I get to spend every day there for free!”

The program’s curriculum is focused on the recurrent themes and distinctive aesthetics of Edward Hopper’s work and its place in American art. Led by an artist-in-residence at the school, each program session includes a pre-lesson in the classroom, a visit to the Edward Hopper House and a post-lesson in the classroom to strengthen student understanding.

According to Nancy Bashian Bunin, Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty director of business development and a licensed real estate broker in New York and New Jersey, additional sponsorships this year are being provided by the Nyack Teachers Association and Festoon, with funds allocated to school partnerships already earmarked from Orange and Rockland. Bunin also serves Edward Hopper House as a trustee.

“This event single-handedly has enabled us to start thriving arts education partnerships in Nyack and the surrounding public schools,” said Bunin. “We are so grateful for everyone’s support as we collectively continue to meet the needs of classrooms and art teachers, integrating art to create interdisciplinary curriculum.”

The fundraiser was held at Glen Iris on the Hudson River, former home of New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur S. Tompkins. The 8,200 square-foot, turn-of-the-century mansion overlooking the Hudson River in Upper Nyack is currently listed for sale by Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty for $3.395 million.