Who are the Guttmans and where did that $$$ come from?

We Pitt people, and especially us Pitt football fans, just became familiar with a Pitt alumni name when Steve and Kathy Guttman casually dropped a cool $2,000,000 into the Pitt Football Championship Fund. 

“Finally!” we all cried “here is a donation that will start the financial donation ball rolling”.  And it well might do so, or at least let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Steve Guttman was a 1968 graduate of Pitt and then went on to complete his law degree at George Washington.  He wasn’t raised in one of Pittsburgh’s arty families, of which there were many back in the ’60s:

Steven Guttman fell in love with art at the heels of a hound. “I grew up in Pittsburgh, in a modest family, and we had no art in our house,” says the 68-year-old collector at his Greenwich Village town house.

The founder of Storage Deluxe Management Corp. and former CEO of the Federal Realty Investment Trust, Guttman is surrounded by hundreds of paintings, sculptures and furniture created by some of the world’s most desired artists. Along with his wife, Kathy, he has amassed one of the nation’s foremost collections of American folk and contemporary art, but he still remembers when he was a blank canvas.

“No one in my family had ever really been exposed to art,” Guttman says.

steve2020kathy20guttmanWe’ll get back to the Guttmans in a moment but I think it is safe to say most Pitt fans had never heard of or knew Steve Guttman before yesterday unless you may have been a childhood friend or attended Pitt in the same years he did.

But very few of us also had even heard of the Pitt Football Championship Fund or “The Quest For Ten” as it is known in the athletic department.

It is a rather new tiered giving program that awards different levels of recognition and athletic department access based on different levels of financial giving as shown here:

chart-2017-04-10

Funny that they don’t recognize the ink and publicity the football team gets for being the subject of this successful Blog!  But the Championship Fund is a good thing and now it is doing a great job in gathering money to sustain the football program’s quest for excellence.

I do like the fact that the three of the four target areas for the donations use are outside the actually workings of the team itself. The four are;  the student-athlete experience, facilities, recruiting and advancing technology.  Really, only recruiting has a direct impact on the roster and the team’s on-field performance per se.  The other three contribute to the student-athlete’s life outside the chalk lines.  “Facilities” can also mean the tutoring areas, study halls and offices for those athletic department personnel who have direct input into the players’ student side of the student/athlete equation.

But as soon as I read the Guttmans’ donation press release something began nagging at me.  I am a follower of the Fine Arts in many forms but paintings and sculptures are my true love.  My wife and I collect some nice artwork (mostly local artists) but we will spend a penny or three to get what we want from the national fine art market also.

I  read, watch, talk about and dive into any arts related things I can find time to do so and it has become a real and fun hobby of mine over the years. Because of that interest I started to remember why the name “Steve Guttman” was familiar to me.

I had read a Forbes magazine article a few years ago about the Guttman couple and their extensive art collection. So extensive that it needed a home of its own…

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The article described  how their art collection had overrun their living space so they put their professional lives in concert with their cultural lives and began thinking about the need for valuable fine art storage spaces.

That cramping generated their belief that there should be safe and accessible places for non-displayed art so they created OUVO art storage buildings and with that earned not only a place in the forefront of well-rounded collectors in the art market itself,  but also a (big) place in the world of where the art goes after it is purchased for those outrageous amounts… and yes, even the high end art dealers think the auction prices these days are ridiculous.

It was a stroke of genius in that there is a dirty little secret in the art market and that is that a majority of the Big Whale art buyers don’t give a damn about the actual art itself.  They either want ownership of a rare piece to be able to gloat and practice snobbery upsmanship over other collectors or they buy it as a commodity to be sold at a later date when the profit margin is at its highest.

Either way they have to keep that piece in bought, or restored, condition and not have to worry about deterioration, destruction or, even worse for them, theft.

That gloating is actually a standardized practice in the art world now – Guttman’s OUVO storage buildings have a series of  “Viewing Rooms” specifically for that purpose. 

uovo_west_viewing_room_1774x972_acf_cropped-1024x561

Owners can arranged a dinner or cocktail party in one of the viewing rooms and have their art they want others to see on a limited basis right there on the pristine white walls.

Then when the party is finished the art is re-stored and the room is cleared out and they can go back to being quietly snobby.

So storing that art is akin to what owners would do with a tomb full of gold or silver they suddenly found; either donate it to a museum and take a 100%-200% (or more if the museum Chairman is a friend) over value appraisal for tax purposes or… put it in climate controlled, ultra-secure storage.

uovo_services_risk_management_02-e1460492174708-1024x768The Guttmans realized this and even took account of natural disasters which might occur and set in place strong precautions against that, which is a realtivly new concern but a big one especially now since the vast flooding of basement storage areas in Manhattan caused by Hurricane Sandy not too long ago.  Of course earthquake prone areas need their storage areas also.

What all that security also does is drive the owner’s insurance premiums way down and puts the onus for keep the art safe in Guttman’s hands.  Burglars, art terrorists,  natural disasters are a few of the things art collectors have to worry about – the professional storage of those items takes that care away.  Personally I have to worry about stubbing my toe on a sculpture that is considered so ugly by the plebeians I live with that it has been consigned by them to my den where it can’t be seen by visitors.  I paid a good $58 for that!

But let’s say those big-ticket buyers do donate that wondrous piece to a museum. Do you think it is going to be seen by the public? Think again. Most of the bigger museums show only a small fraction of their holdings and keep everything not on rotating display in deep storage. 

They do that because those over-inflated value art donations compromise the bulk of what the museum will sell-off in a de-accessioning move (paring down the collection instead of building the collection) to generate cash to either pay off institutional debt or purchase truly outstanding pieces currently on the market.

art no display.pngThe chart to the left is just a small sampling of the ‘hidden art’ that museums hold and shows only the artists that are so mega-famous they are almost household names.  Multiply that buy thousands to account for hidden art from lesser know artists and you can see why the art storage business thrives.

That is what Steve Guttman, from small town Pittsburgh, PA, did to make his millions and thank goodness for that. Without the crazy art market and the ego-driven idiots who pay way too much for things I can do in my garage we wouldn’t have had that $2M dropped into Pitt’s collective laps this week.

I do hope this generates interest to others who have the financial wherewithal to make big contributions toward athletics.  This one was specifically for the football program so it will be more visible than some others but rest assured that all monies are welcomed by the university in general and the athletic department in particular.

Here is my favorite piece of the Guttman’s collection that I could  find images of…  “Tango Vagabando” by Matthias Bitzer:

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I want it!!

Fellow Pitt fans… Here’s what I’ll do.  I’m going downstairs now to threaten to move my ‘ugly’ sculpture into our living room. I’ll insist on it being in a place of honor.

Then I’ll extort $50 from my wife to move it back to my den, and believe me she will pay up as she absolutely hates it.  Then I’ll donate that $50 to the Football Championship Fund as soon as she pays me off.

Underhanded?  Yes.  Good cause?  Also yes.

I’ll do that and as of now I’m challenge Pitt fans far and wide to donate what they can to the Fund also. 

How’s that for fund-raising?

 

 

98 thoughts on “Who are the Guttmans and where did that $$$ come from?

      1. Erie – Pitt Media team sent that to him b/c he’s visiting PSU this weekend. I wouldn’t call it a lean, just a reminder of where his roots are.

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  1. Art has always been, meh to me. Seems like a hobby for people who have too much money. On the other hand, giving $2,000,000 to PITT football is a worthwhile endeavor for sure.

    Tango Vagabando can’t touch my Roberto Clemente, PITT Stadium’s last game, Forbes Field against the Yankees, photo collection and my Arnold Palmer bronze statue.

    When we redid the game-room, I took all our kids and grand-kids pictures and put them in a box. There banned from my hangout. Pittsburgh sports stuff exclusively. The wife is into antiques and crap. She can put our family pic’s and old stuff anywhere else in the house, and I ain’t paying her fifty bucks either.

    I did donate close to 1,000 bucks this week to PITT football though through club seats.

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    1. Mr Riggs, if that’s for me, yes and last. 🙂

      I’m serving my second sentence. It’s 26 years and still no hope of parole. The woman is hopelessly in love with me. Who would have thought?

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        1. Oh that’s right, You were at the golf outing. I remember you. I guess I gave out too much information in that case. lol

          Yes, from the ITH, weren’t you friends with KayserSouze a long time ago? Those were different times.. ike

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  2. Ike–According to the IRS, a donation is something where you give and don’t get something of any value in return……….I guess your donation/purchase would qualify as a charitable donation.

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  3. I don’t write it off but that’s what PITT calls the shakedown for club seats though.

    Question, a true donation is a tax write-off, no? Then what are you really giving up? My donation is non-returnable.

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  4. Wbb – I get tired of you jumping on me every post. Ramella acts like a political jerk. I can be negative and it usually comes true. Hige difference. Lighten up or I’m going to come to Carrick. Doris Burke still sucks as an announcer. Man Woman Goat. Probably why we get the D+ team.

    Hoops is a dumpster fire. I said it 2 weeks into hiring slappy Soles. Should of listened to me then.

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  5. I failed third grade art, seriously. Well it did involve some misbehavior.
    Is the decommit from BB one that KS got a commitment from already? Maybe the Carrick fifth graders who do the Heinz Field artwork can play BB as well?. Will anyone go to the Pete this year? Maybe we can put Reed’s statue there? Or pay him not to put it there? Thought provoking. What is the sound of a BB bouncing in an empty building? Does it make a sound? Stop the thoughts; Darkie pass me the meds. 🙂

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  6. Ike–You can write off as a charitable deduction a donation to a qualified educational institution (which Pitt qualifies as). If you pay $1000 for a ticket and the true value is $100, you can write off $900. The tricky part is proving what the true value of the ticket is?

    I was making a joke above, since you can probably buy the tickets for most Pitt home games for $10 or less outside of Heinz Field I was suggesting writing off the entire amount. I don’t see any home games that are tough tickets.

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  7. Sounds like you know what you’re talking about Mr Anonymous. Don’t take this as braggadocios but I have only utility/maintenance bills to pay. I have zero debt. So you’re saying I can still write off a few club season tickets? I haven’t had a write off in years.

    I’ve have had season tickets for years on and off. Health being an issue and all. I can’t live without the casual atmosphere of club seats. Paying the extra dough while PITT wants to call it a donation is fine by me. It kind of makes me feel like I’m doing some good… but at the same time…. if I can get money back?? I’ll take it. What’s the charge?? 🙂

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  8. Its theft if Pitt charges for any basketball ticket next year. And if they do, it should be 100% deductible. What a dumpster fire this program has become. Thank you Gallagher. He doesnt even attend games anymore. He knows he screwed up royally.

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  9. Ike, I believe the key to life is surrounding ourselves with things that bring us joy, comfort and sometimes make us go in directions that are new and different to us.

    That is what original artworks do for me.

    You may watch a Dorsett TD for all the joy and comfort and really enjoy it each time you watch it, and so do I. But it leaves very little to my personal interpretation. It just is what it is, at least for me.

    But with art, and three dimensional art in particular, it allows me to experience that artist’s skill with more than one sense and the best art changes with different surroundings and in different light. And the best of the abstract arts allow you to see something different every time you look at it.

    I really enjoy meeting an artist who has done something I have acquired but I always wait at least a year so that I can experiencetheir work in every way possible before I hear what he, or she intended.

    But I’ll never stop hitting flea markets and art college art shows etc because each new thing is a gift from the artist to me.

    BTW… The most we have ever spent on any one piece is $1,500 and I have spent WAY less for things I value more than that one.

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  10. I just wrote off Stallings and his Rockports collection. I also wrote off Conklin, Barnes Watermellon head and the Soccer coach and Baseball coach who live under .500. I wrote off Heinz Field and all the Olympic Sports complexes and. trees hall. I lasted claimed Nix because is is the only player on the team.

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  11. So, who’s the next coach?
    Brandon Knight?
    When Pappy Stallings gets the boot next year, I can’t see a lot of coaches pounding on the door.

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  12. Donations to most athletics departments are tax deductible but usually are capped at 80% of the total donation.Seat taxes are considered a donation. You should receive a letter from the athletic department spelling out your donation(s) & the tax deductible amount. But you must itemize & be over the standard deduction before you benefit from itemizing.

    Ike – I pay $325 seat tax on the lower level 20 yard line, row 22. For this I get an aluminum bleacher bench seat (16 inches for a 20 inch butt.). Padded seat backs cost an additional $40.

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  13. Reed, I really wasn’t knocking artwork so much as saying it’s not my thing. I love certain types of music that most people would think is meh. It’s a personal choice and I can see why people would get into it.

    I really feel like I do surround myself with the material pleasures of life, almost to a fault. I have speakers in and out of my house. The neighbors say they love it but who knows? I play jingle bells while shoveling the sidewalks and Bruce Springsteen on the fourth of July. LOUD!!

    What’s good is we all have the common interest and love for PITT football! ..and the need to talk about it.

    Mr cocks. (that’s funny to type that) I have always let my son in law put my tickets on his account in the past and yes he did write them off. (more for a better parking spot with the points) I never ask for my cut and no he didn’t offer. This year I’m on my own.

    BTW, I did switch my tickets to section 232 today in case of anyone being in that area. The parking pass is still up for anyone to use in case they may need it for a particular game.

    Asses do tend to make themselves more cushiony with age like fine wine or whisky/whiskey..

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  14. rkb.. you weren’t much of an art guy but in your POV golf pic ” you where it well” as Rod Stewart would say.

    UPitt, you lucky bastad.. you know what I mean… your buddy FrankenBarnes is in charge of the #1 baseball team in the country.. I bet they drop bid time next year.. he left
    PITT ( PTL) to take care of his Mom…

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  15. Bernie – Yes he did. You never know when your Mom at 91 is going to need you to move 6 hours away to take care of her. He used Pitt and Gallagher like a horse. Because she wasn’t 90
    When he took the job. Comical

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  16. I would not like to see Brandon Knight as a head coach. Remember he was an assistant for all those years and couldn’t bring in quality four and five star players. I just don’t think he has the “it” factor and may have been a bit lazy once he started collecting a big paycheck.

    Do any of you guys have eligibility left to play bball as a walk-on? It’s getting late to fill out the roster and my fear is that he will fill it up with a bunch of skunkhaired rockport wearing, double dribbling, no basketball iq, low percentage, no defensive skills type players. I would rather go watch one of us play as a walk on.

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  17. If Pitt uses the Guttman’s money to pay people to attend the BB games next year they may get a few people to attend at $5 a piece.

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  18. Reed, my mother in law is an awesome artist and a few years ago she painted a picture of a panther for my Pitt man cave…perfect melding of local artist and sports. Haha.

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  19. Two bad decisions put our bb in this situation.
    Gallagher hiring Barnes and parlaying that to Barnes hiring Stallings. So here we sit.

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  20. Now see, Mr Lastrow has my idea of fine artwork. I would definitely commission Mrs Mother-by-law to paint a picture anything PITT (football)

    Mr Riggs, you met my son, I’m guessing with Reed, at the Tilted Kilt years ago? He posts occasionally over at The Lair. He’s busy with family and work. I’ll tell him you said hello.

    Where in the heck is Burgh Guy? He was always wanting me to join facebook and post on the blather.

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  21. Upitt I see your baseball team lost to NCarolina yesterday 5-2. Record now 16-19 overall 7-12 in ACC. Number three batter was 0-5 with five K’s. Can you still hit a baseball?? You could be a diamond in the rough. Another tough year. H2p

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  22. Reed, I muse that your high brow article about the those things in life that stimulate the creative senses such as the fine art pieces that are the subject of your current post above is lost our crowd.

    FYI, I enjoyed the read, especially the expose of the intricacies of the storage infrastructures required to protect & preserve such pieces.

    A niche market for sure, but one that the Guttmans have developed to it’s full potential in acquiring their fortune. Good for them. Good for Pitt Football as well when they share that wealth in the generous fashion that they just have.

    You stoked my interest in visiting a museum this weekend. Thanks!

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  23. OK there Dr Snooty. You hit the nail on the head with me. I’m the first to admit that I haven’t acquired the panache of the elitist crowd. Quite the opposite in fact. I’ve avoided that crowd intentionally for years and years. I’m a self confessed, simple man.

    My motto in life. Give me a beer, loud music and my solitude. Now, I’m pretty much down to my solitude. If I only had some nice artwork to stare.

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  24. PittmanForever @ 9:19: those 2 decisions were nails in the coffin alright. But I think the main nail happened a few years back. SP saw the downward trend in BB recruiting, and did absolutely nothing to reverse the trend (I’m assuming he was astute enough to note the problem!)

    A forward thinking AD would have sat down with JD – after all, they were buddies – and asked what needed to be done to reverse the trend – and then got it done. What? More $ to hire recruiters? It’s the Ad’s job to come up with the funds needed.

    The problem we are facing now is back-to-back dumpster fire ADs!

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  25. Here’s a couple talking points I was saving for Tuesday night.

    Do you think not announcing the games time earlier affects the attendance? Hard to make plans for long distance fans.

    I think next years schedule sets PITT up for better late season attendance?? Miami doesn’t travel well but maybe more interest locally?

    Does Charlie Partridge’s return bode well for the linebackers as well as the defensive line? He was at PITT for Scott McKillop and Joe Clermond

    BTW, I got this info from my PITT spring game guide courtesy of one Reed Kohberger. Thanks again and I did receive my “ike” golf tag.

    Last years attendance for the psu game: 69,983 — WOW!

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  26. Will there be a surprise true freshman that gets playing time next year that’s not named Paris Ford? He will.

    What’s on the menu for the first game tailgate??

    Drum up support for the round-table. It’s going to make you famous.

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    1. Like the terminator,,,,,,,

      I’ll Be Back.

      I just keep coming up with Tuesday night scheduling conflicts as of late. Enjoy!

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  27. I would say something about that picture of the couple but I’m afraid I would be banned like EMel. I’m biting my tongue.

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  28. Emel has never been banned on here at all. I’ve never even thought about it… as a matter of fact I have been wondering where he is.

    No one has ever been banned on the POV since it began and I have no plans on doing it either.

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  29. Topics – Should Scott Barnes do Prison Time for stealing Pitt’s Money and did he have a psych eval before hiring Stallings and paying a fee for that. Also what weighs more a super sized watermellon or his head.

    I do not see Lyte having any bowl pull so unless we win 9 do we go back to NYC and or Birmingham or Pizza Bowl in detroit because I do not see her having pull in this business coming from EMU

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    1. Watch it there Upitt!

      By simply changing some names in your post above, you’ve just made a scathing political inquisition commentary

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  30. I’ve been trying like heck to get banned on the POV all the time. Yet the POV remains the only PITT forum I have never been banned from. This is doing serious damage to my legacy.

    Although, Reed has threaten to vanquish me when we meet in person. I have never been vanquished before so that might be interesting.

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  31. Somebody with the handle Emel was banned on The Blather right after Lyke’s hiring was announced. Chas Rich had very specifically warned people not to make even remotely sexist comments around her hiring. Emel posted something that wasn’t too egregious but still sexist and Chas banned him. Assuming he’s the same person, of which I am nearly certain, perhaps he’s just given it all up. He was fairly disgusted with the basketball program specifically and the administration in general at the time.

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    1. I got a nice safe place for that out in my garage, behind the beer refrigerator. $10/year, another $10 if you want it shrink wrapped initially.

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  32. Emel has disappeared for long stretches before.

    Alabama spring game is highly entertaining, so much talent. 21-14 at half, Foster with a touchdown and at least one other long pass. My guess, he stays put. PSU 6-0 at the half, boring the few minutes I watched.

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  33. Imagine having so much wealth you need a place to store your art.

    Unlike “storage wars” where people buy other peoples junk to try to make a buck.

    WBB, do you value that one more than your Elvis on Velvet.

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  34. Ike — here are my answers to two of your questions.

    Does announcing game times earlier affect attendance? In my case yes. I don’t do night games, and was really burned a couple of years ago. Bought Pitt tix when they were playing at UVa. Prospects of a beautiful weekend in Charlottesville. Then a week before the game it was announced it was going to be a night game. Wasted the day. Will NEVER buy tickets now without knowing when the game is going to be played. And, unfortunately, that goes for season tickets, something I regretted giving up.
    Surprise true freshman? Jerry Drake will be in the starting OL lineup by the fifth game.

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