Rekindled Hearts: Old Friends Find New Love

Barbara Guggenheim and Alan Joel Patricof were, as usual, keeping an eye on the time as they signed their prenuptial agreement in Miami on the morning of December 7. Not because they were counting down the days until they could get married—they both said they were so in love that getting married was a given—but because that's how they live.

The Malibu, California, resident Ms. Guggenheim said, “I think breakneck is the only speed Alan knows.” It's not like she was just sitting around that morning. Before the prenup was even dry, she had to go to Art Basel, an international art show in Miami, to meet with a number of clients.

Mr. Patricof, 89, and Ms. Guggenheim, 77, have known each other since the early 1970s, before either of them became famous for their work: Mr. Patricof in business, Ms. Guggenheim as an art advisor to clients like Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg; etc.

Jonathan Brown, an art scholar, was a friend of both of them and brought them together for dinners out on the town. In those days, there were six of them: Ms. Guggenheim and her boyfriend, an art collector; Mr. Patricof and his wife, Susan; and Mr. Brown and his wife, Sandra (Mr. Brown died in 2022).

Both remember that the get-togethers didn't happen very often, but the company was notable. “Alan liked going on new adventures,” Ms. Guggenheim said. “He was always ready to try new places to eat.” He was active and interested in whatever was being talked about, whether it was art history or something else. Mr. Patricof liked how Ms. Guggenheim worked hard and loved art. He told her, “Barbara was always very smart and worked hard.”

In 1969, Mr. Patricof started his first business, Alan Patricof Associates. This was before the term “venture capital” became common in business and was used to describe ways to give bright new businesses a boost. That business later changed its name to Apax Partners. In 2006, he started a second company called Greycroft Partners, which he is still chairman emeritus of today. It invested in companies like what was then called the Huffington Post, Axios, and Wondery. he and a partner started Primetime Partners in 2020. It is a fund that puts money into technology, goods, and services for people over 60. He is still in charge of that.

Bootstraps helped him get ahead in the business world. His mother, Dorine, was from Belarus and his father, Martin, was from Ukraine. He was born in New York in 1934 to immigrant parents. At age 6, Mr. Patricof was selling the Saturday Evening Post in the subway. He said, “We were very careful with our lives.” “My parents barely had enough to get by and send their kids to school,” that includes his two younger sisters. “I didn't take a taxi or fly until I was in the middle of college.”

He studied business at Ohio State University and got his bachelor's degree after three years. After two years, he went to Columbia and got an M.B.A. while working as an analyst for an investment company.

They got divorced in 1966, after the first of his three kids, Mark, was born. They got married young, in 1958. He married Susan in 1970, and she went on to become a famous activist who helped children and health around the world. He told her, “My wife was smart, beautiful, and the nicest person in the world.” In January 2021, Ms. Patricof died of Alzheimer's disease. She was married to Mr. Patricof and they had two kids, Jon, 50, and Jamie, 47.

Even though Ms. Guggenheim has a well-known name, she is not related to the family that runs the Guggenheim museums and foundation. In Woodbury, New Jersey, she went to Quaker school as a child and had a younger sister named Eileen Guggenheim Wilkinson. Their parents were Lester and Sylvia Guggenheim, and they ran dress shops. But Sylvia loved art more than clothes.

Both of the girls caught that love. Ms. Guggenheim Wilkinson is the chair of the board at the New York Academy of Art and used to work as an assistant to King Charles III. Both of her sisters have Ph.D.s in art history. To pay for graduate school, Ms. Guggenheim worked as a professor at the Whitney Museum of American Art before she got hers from Columbia. She also got her master's in art history from Columbia. She went to Douglass College at Rutgers University and got her bachelor's degree in art history.

“I've seen the art world from different points of view,” she said. “I was the founder of Art Tours of Manhattan in the 1970s, which took people to art studios and galleries,” and she was also the head of the American Painting Department at Christie's.

In 1981, she started an art consulting business that grew into Guggenheim, Asher Associates. She is still in charge there. Bert Fields is a celebrity lawyer who has worked with George Lucas, Michael Jackson, Warren Beatty, and Dustin Hoffman, among other famous people. She didn't marry him until 1991, when she was in her early 40s.

They didn't have any kids, but they did own several houses. “I collect houses, not art,” Ms. Guggenheim said. She has four homes, but Malibu is her main home. “I don't want to go up against my clients.”

Her marriage was strong, just like Mr. Patricof's. He went to the funeral in Los Angeles when Mr. Fields died last year from problems caused by long-term COVID. Because the couples had become friends over the years, Ms. Guggenheim also cried with Mr. Patricof when Susan, whom she had admired for a long time, died.

Read all of our wedding, relationship, and breakup stories here, as well as more Vows columns.

The man in charge said, “We both had great marriages.” It shocked them more to decide to start a new one together this fall than it did their friends.

“I think they didn't expect to find comfort in each other,” said Dr. Wayne Winnick, a sports medicine doctor who has known Mr. Patricof for more than 30 years and is friends with him.

He also said that they get along well with each other socially and for energy. Mr. Patricof runs races; he was the oldest person to finish the New York City Marathon last year. Ms. Guggenheim dances on a competitive level. They both write books for fun. “No Red Lights: Reflections on Life, 50 Years in Venture Capital and Never Driving Alone,” written by Mr. Patricof and published by Post Hill Press last year, is her first book of stories. Ms. Guggenheim has written five books about art, including “Art World: The New Rules of the Game,” published by Marmont Lane in 2017.

This is not what you would call a standard courtship. It got so bad for Ms. Patricof's illness in 2020 that she had to stay in their Upper East Side apartment alone. Mr. Patricof often needed a partner to meet people for social events. He said, “I told my kids and friends, don't be shocked if you see me out with someone.” “Both Barbara and I were so devoted to our marriages it was crazy.” Being alone is hard, though.

Since Ms. Guggenheim lived on the West Coast, she wasn't in his list of possible dates. She was also taking care of Mr. Fields, whose health was getting worse. She did help in another way, though. She said, “Alan would need a plus-one, and I would check them out.” By 2022, she was feeling differently about her job as a screening officer.

“I would go places with him when we were in New York, and if we ran into someone he had gone out with or was going to go out with, I felt a little cross,” she said. After their spouses died, they both went on a few blind dates. But by the end of 2022, “I think we both came to the conclusion that we'd rather be with each other than with anyone else,” she said.

It's not true for either of them that their relationship was built on ease. He said, “It's nice to be with someone who gets along with your family and friends.” “But it's really just that we fell in love.” We're seeing each other now. “I always laugh because people probably think we're two old losers who just let's glue it together,” Ms. Guggenheim said. That's not how it works.”

When a friend told them they were engaged at a cocktail party in the Hamptons in September, neither of them had thought about marriage as a way to keep their relationship together. Mr. Patricof said, “He brought up the name of a friend we both had who had told him we were getting married.” The friend started the story. Neither of them knows why, but they both thought it was funny. After a few days, they went for a long walk in East Hampton. “I asked, ‘Since he said it, let's do it.'”

The fact that Mr. Patricof is willing to play is one of the things Ms. Guggenheim loves about him, she said. She was up for it that day. Yes, she said.

They got married on December 10 in the Park Avenue flat that Mr. Patricof has lived in since 1970. Forty family members and close friends were present.

A traditional Jewish ritual was led by David Gelfand, who is the rabbi at Temple Israel of the City of New York. Before they stomped their glasses to start their marriage, Rabbi Gelfand told everyone that the wedding would bring them happiness. “These days, people their age go to funerals,” he said. Not those people.

People often ask Mr. Patricof if he thinks he will live to be 114 years old. He told her, “I promised Barbara we'd be together for 25 years.” It's important to her. “I can't stay away from Alan,” she said.

Today is

When December 10, 2023

Where New York's Park Avenue

Rings Used Before The couple gave each other rings during the service. Not any new ones, though. Their wedding bands were from when they were married before. “We were happily married for a long time,” Ms. Guggenheim said. “We thought it was a good sign.”

Something Wonderful She was 77 years old on her wedding day. A bunch of flowers showed up at the apartment during a party where people were drinking bellinis and mimosas and eating lox and bagels from a spread. She said, “In the middle of everything, Tom Cruise sent me flowers for my birthday.” There were a lot of flowers in it. “He does everything that is wonderful.”

And Something Unique Her mother's favorite flower was the lily of the valley, and she took it with her on her short walk down the living room aisle. She also wore a white Dior suit that she had stored away. The blue suit that Mr. Patricof always wears was from J. Crew.

Still a collection In the new year, Ms. Guggenheim will move to New York, but she will keep her other properties, such as the home in Malibu.


Mr. John A. Barnett is an experienced News Editor at DigitalKarate. He is skilled in the art of building tales that are compelling and in ensuring that reporting is accurate.

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