Vera Eberstadt died April 2 at home. She was 85. Born May 5, 1928 in Vienna, Austria, the only child of Ignaz von Kuffner, whose family owned the Ottakringer Brewery there, and Helene von Kuffner, nee Dreyfus, whose family founded the Basel, Switzerland-based bank of that name.
Vera’s childhood came to an abrupt end in 1938 when, just two weeks after the death of her father, she and her mother fled Vienna to escape the Nazis, traveling via Switzerland and England to settle in New York city in 1940. She attended the Birch Wathen School and received her bachelor’s degree from Vassar College in 1948 and a master’s degree in European history from Columbia University in 1950, where she also worked as assistant to the historian Jacques Barzun. She was a talented sculptor and member of the Art Students League in New York city, creating modern forms inspired by Jean Arp, with whom she apprenticed in Paris.
In 1964, she married the investment banker Walter Eberstadt. For almost 50 years, she joined in his business and civic activities, traveled the world and collected art with him, supported educational and cultural institutions with him through the Eberstadt-Kuffner foundation, and took loving care of him until his death, just one month before hers. She loved her sons Michael and George, adored her grandchildren Max, Zoe, Maya and Esme, and was devoted to her daughters in law Nina Beattie and Cynthia Young. Their summer home in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard and their community of friends there were her great joy.
Vera had a deep capacity to understand people, which made her both a wonderful listener and an enthralling storyteller, which she did with a bracing lack of varnish. She was the steadiest, most caring of friends, and she loved to bring her friends together. Her family and many friends will miss her so.
Donations may be made in Vera’s memory to the Frick Collection and to Doctors Without Borders. There will be a private memorial service.