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Richard Ekstract, Publishing Executive

Thu, 08/17/2023 - 10:26

Feb. 20, 1931 - Aug. 7, 2023

Richard Evan Ekstract, a magazine publisher who founded Hamptons Cottages and Gardens, a noted art collector, and a real estate developer, died on Aug. 7 at Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. A part-time resident of the South Fork for many years, he was 92 and had cancer for four years.

He was born in New York City on Feb. 20, 1931, to Max and Millie Ekstract. He grew up in Philadelphia, where he graduated from Overbrook High School and took a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Temple University. After his university days, he was commissioned in the Army as a lieutenant. Stationed at the infantry school in Fort Benning, Ga., from 1952 to 1955, he became the editor of Infantry magazine.

When he completed his military service, Mr. Ekstract moved to New York City and took a job as head of publicity for Technicolor, enrolling simultaneously in Columbia University’s M.B.A. program.

In 1959, his family said, he saw an opportunity to launch a magazine for the newly emerging audio and high-fidelity industry. His first publication, Audio Times, was a weekly trade publication for the audio business, which he started with a loan from his former boss at Technicolor. Struggling to stay afloat with no revenue after one year, Mr. Ekstract received a call from Avery Fisher, an industry pioneer, who asked for a meeting.

Mr. Fisher was said to have been so impressed with the quality of Audio Times that he signed on as its first advertiser, providing the means for Mr. Ekstract to launch his next magazine, Tape Recording, a special-interest consumer magazine.

To promote his new magazine, Mr. Ekstract’s family said, he collaborated with the then-burgeoning artist Andy Warhol to create a competition for best tape recordings. Next, Mr. Warhol joined him in acquiring the first consumer-developed video camera in 1964, producing the famed first video art titled “Outer and Inner Space,” starring Edie Sedgwick. The video premiered in 1965 at an Underground Party that Mr. Ekstract hosted on the secret rail tracks under the Waldorf Astoria hotel, his family said.

In exchange for his collaboration on the project, Mr. Warhol gave Mr. Ekstract 10 silk-screened “Red” self-portraits as gifts to party sponsors, which 40 years later became the center of the controversial and historic court case brought against the Warhol Foundation by Joe Simon-Whelan, a filmmaker.

In total, Mr. Ekstract launched 20 trade and consumer magazines, including Cottages and Gardens editions here and in Palm Beach, Connecticut, Westchester County, and New York City. He was inducted into the Consumer Technology Association Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Video Hall of Fame in 1989. He also received the Neal Award for Business Journalism and honors from Jewish organizations such as B’nai B’rith and the U.J.A. Licensing Division.

Mr. Ekstract owned a horse farm and weekend house in the Berkshires, where he and his family would go to relax. He enjoyed the ocean as well as architecture and design, which led him to buy and renovate three houses in East Hampton: a classic 1920s estate on Georgica Road, followed by a complete renovation of a grand 1916 oceanfront “cottage” on Lily Pond Lane with the noted architect Robert A.M. Stern as a partner, and a re-creation of a Tuscan villa with the architect Alexander Gorlin on Darby Lane. Mr. Ekstract also owned houses on Palm Island, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines, where he would spend his winters. His homes were featured in major architectural and design publications around the globe.

A first marriage, to Claudia Tucker in 1955, ended in divorce 10 years later; she survives. After his second marriage, to Eileen Jaffe on Sept. 4, 1990, the couple built a new, postmodern Italian villa on eight acres on Sagg Pond, called Villa Amore. They lived there for 15 years. The couple also built an extensive collection of more than 700 contemporary paintings and sculptures.

Mr. Ekstract served on the boards of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in Manhattan and the Singing Machine Company. His family said he was also a member of the Friars Club and was an original investor in Trattoria Dell’Arte in New York.

In addition to Eileen Ekstract, his wife of 33 years, Mr. Ekstract leaves three children, Janet Ellen Ekstract of Istanbul, Steven Ekstract of Fairfield, Conn., and Michael Ekstract of New York City, and two daughters-in-law. He also leaves four grandchildren. Mr. Ekstract was cremated; a memorial service in New York City is to be announced in the future.


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