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Fort Worth Arts Patron Anne Bass Has Died

by Jerome Weeks 2 Apr 2020 8:06 PM

The former wife of oil tycoon Sid Bass, she was a major donor to nearly every sizable Fort Worth arts organization. She went on to serve on the boards of the New York City Ballet and the Museum of Modern Art.

Photo: Khmer Dance Project

The former wife of oil billionaire Sid Bass died Wednesday after a long illness. She was 78.

Anne Bass was a significant supporter of most major arts organizations in  Fort Worth from the Van Cliburn Foundation to the Fort Worth Symphony. In the early 1980s, when the Fort Worth Ballet was folding, she essentially helped restructure it into what eventually became Texas Ballet Theater, underwriting its continuance with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

An intensely private woman, she married Sid Bass in 1965 — they had known each other even before her college years at Vassar — and the couple lived in a striking modern home designed by architect Paul Rudolph with landscaping by Russell Page. Her own art collection included works by Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko and Claude Monet.

The Bass family home in Fort Worth, designed by Paul Rudolph. Photo: Paper City.

Her divorce from Bass in 1988 left Anne Bass with $200 million — plus their Fort Worth home and their Central Park apartment. At the time, it was supposedly the largest such settlement in Texas history. Bass spent much of her time in Connecticut, Nevis and Manhattan, where she served on the boards of the New York City Ballet and the Museum of Modern Art. She also was known for her meticulously cultivated gardens, especially the one she created over the years for her 1000-acre estate in Connecticut. She produced and directed a film in 2010, “Dancing Across Borders,” about Sokvanara Sar, the young dancer she discovered in Cambodia who eventually studied at the School of American Ballet in New York and danced with the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

In 2007, Bass and her partner, British painter Julian Lethbridge, were held hostage by three men on Bass’ estate in Connecticut. Five years later, her 41-year-old butler was sentenced to 20 years in prison for trying to extort $8.5 million from her during the home invasion. The other two men eluded capture.

Anne Bass is survived by two daughters, novelist Hyatt Bass and photographer Samantha Bass, two grandsons and her partner, Julian Lethbridge.