NEW YORK – Doyle will present an auction titled The Collection of Jay I. Kislak Sold to Benefit the Kislak Family Foundation on Wednesday, June 15 at 10 am Eastern time. This exceptional and extensive collection comprises Roman antiquities, fine art, and also maps and books relating to the early history of Florida. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Innovative businessman, philanthropist, aviator, collector, history enthusiast, and patron of education and ideas Jay I. Kislak was born June 6, 1922, in Hoboken, New Jersey. Kislak spent his life exploring unusual places, ideas and ventures, forging relationships and assembling extraordinary treasures, which he generously shared. His achievements encompassed many fields of endeavor – business, collecting, flying and philanthropy, to name just a few.
Entrepreneurial and driven, Kislak got his first real estate license while still a high school student at Newark Academy. He earned a degree in economics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating early to serve as a naval aviator in World War II. Upon returning home to New Jersey in 1945, Kislak entered the family real estate business full time and made it his life’s work. He established what would become one of the country’s largest privately held mortgage banks, originating and servicing loans nationwide for more than 40 years. Until his death at age 96, Kislak served as chairman of the Kislak Organization, which today focuses on real estate investment and brokerage.
While building a successful business enterprise, Kislak also created a cultural and historic legacy – unique collections of rare books, maps, manuscripts, paintings and artifacts. Kislak may not have envisioned such grand distinction when he began collecting, in the early 1950s, soon after his move to Florida.
He started modestly, buying old maps to decorate the walls of his office. A lover of books and libraries, he explored bookshops and galleries specializing in old and rare editions, particularly books related to Florida. Slowly, he started acquiring important volumes of literature and history. In his typical fashion, he kept studying and asking questions.
In his more than 60 years of collecting, Kislak assembled one of the world’s most significant private holdings of materials related to the early Americas. He also established the nonprofit Jay I. Kislak Foundation for the conservation and study of materials related to the cultures and history of the early Americas.
In 2004, Kislak donated more than 4,000 items from the collection to the Library of Congress. This extraordinary gift to the American people is now on permanent display and features one of Kislak’s greatest acquisitions – the 1516 Carta Marina Navigatoria, the first printed navigational map of the world by the celebrated German mapmaker Martin Waldseemuller.
Through a landmark gift in 2017, Kislak and his family established two permanent south Florida homes for his internationally significant collection – Kislak Centers at the University of Miami and Miami Dade College Freedom Tower.
The Kislak Family Foundation also established Kislak Centers at the University of Pennsylvania and at Monmouth University in New Jersey, and supports programs at Florida State University Real Estate Center, the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and other institutions.
In honor of Kislak and all World War II veterans, the Kislak Family Foundation made a leadership gift to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum to support the creation of the Jay I. Kislak World War II in the Air Gallery, which is on track to open in 2025 in Washington, D.C.
Into the final decade of his life, Kislak’s energy, memory and physical bearing were remarkable. He never lost his genuine sense of curiosity, constantly asking questions, interested in learning more, embarking on new explorations and seeking new gems for his collections.
View top auction results on LiveAuctioneers here: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/pages/recent-auction-sales/