Arts / Museums

Movie Theater Mogul’s Legendary Silver Collection is Brought Back Out for Supper

Unique Dinner Honors $75 Million of Giving

BY // 09.21.17

As the Dallas Museum of Art’s Silver Supper celebrates its silver anniversary, we look back on the extraordinary couple whose personal collection – gifted to the museum in 1987 – made the DMA one of America’s most important silver holdings.

Karl Hoblitzelle, an entertainment mogul and early investor in movie theaters (he built The Majestic, among others), and his wife Esther – a former Broadway actress, counted collecting English and Irish sterling silver among their many hobbies.

Dinner parties at the Hoblitzelle’s were legendary – and not just for the plenitude of antique silver. “When prohibition came, Mr. Hoblitzelle bought the entire bar stock at the Baker and Adolphus Hotels, amassing one of the largest liquor collections in the city – probably the state,” says Paul Harris, president and CEO of the Hoblitzelle Foundation. “They had a huge warehouse full of liquor.”

One can only imagine the conversations being had over cocktails in the Hoblitzelle’s Highland Park home, which was on St. Andrews Drive near what is now the YMCA (land the Hoblitzelles donated).

Notably two of Dallas’ most generous and civically engaged during the 1930s and ‘40s, the couple founded the Hoblitzelle Foundation in 1942 to further their philanthropic reach.

When Esther suddenly passed away the following year, the silver collection was appraised. “The appraiser made the comment that the silver collection was museum-quality,” Harris says, “Although that’s not why they collected it — it was just for their daily social life.”

Holiday Gifting

  • Cle Du Peau - Nail Polish
  • Bond No 9 - Candle
  • Loeffler Randall - Clutch
  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Bond No 9 - Perfume
  • Nocturne Studio
  • Cle Du Peau - Lip Gloss
  • Oscar De La Renta - Clutch
  • Casa di Lino
  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Oscar De La Renta - Earrings
  • Loeffler Randall - Shoes

Harris, who will be retiring this year after more than 30 years of service to the foundation, is quite familiar with the Hoblitzelle’s silver. “My father was the curator of the collection and had a silver repair shop in a studio where we lived on Northaven Road,” he says.

He then oversaw the collection’s transmission to the DMA in ’87 – a substantial gift that included 550 pieces (along with 47 paintings by 17th-century Italian and Dutch masters and works by 19th century American artists – for good measure).

Since 1992, patrons of the DMA have sought to recreate the Hoblitzelle’s famous dinner parties with the annual Silver Supper, a black tie dinner benefiting the museum’s Decorative Arts Acquisition Endowment Fund.

This year’s dinner is this Friday, September 22. Co-chairs Rusty Duvall and Peggy Sewell will welcome more than 250 guests to celebrate 75 years of the Hoblitzelle Foundation, which, to date, has given $75 million to the DMA and $219 million total in grants since 1942.

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