It was Mr Hawkins who, for example, helped organize the construction of a new wing to house the Temple of Dendur, a gift from the Egyptian government – a project, inaugurated in 1978, which has been supported by the Sackler family , that Mr. Hawkins had courted diligently. (The family’s name was removed from the wing in 2021 due to the role their company, Purdue Pharma, played in the opioid crisis.)
“All the major gifts of his time were projects he was intimately involved in and helped bring to fruition,” Sharon Cott, a protege of Mr Hawkins and the current Met barrister, said in a statement. interview.
Mr. Hawkins also served as secretary to the board and later its attorney, a position that took him beyond his official responsibilities to become something of a cultural adviser to the astronomically rich. Although not as wealthy as his unofficial proteges, he was often seen mingling with them at their parties, dressed in understated, perfectly tailored Savile Row suits.
If the museum knew of a potential donor, it was often up to Mr. Hawkins to recruit him, said Emily K. Rafferty, who worked with him as head of development at the Met and later served as its president.
“Sometimes it was me and sometimes I was like, ‘Oh, I think the best person for this is someone else,’ and often that person was Ashton,” she said in an interview. “He was a versatile guy.”
William Ashton Hawkins was born on May 11, 1937 in Manhattan and grew up in Syosset, an affluent suburb of Long Island. His father, Ashton William Hawkins, was an investment broker who had moved to New York from New Mexico, where Ashton’s grandfather had helped found the city of Alamogordo in 1898.