Ina Ginsburg, Arts Patron and Warhol Chum, Dies at 98

Ina Ginsburg with her 1982 portrait by Andy Warhol. photo: Tony Powell.

A leading society hostess, arts patron and sometime writer for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, Ina Ginsburg died at her home in Washington, D.C., age 98, on November 9.

As reported in the Washington Post and elsewhere, Ginsburg was born Ida Spira into a prominent middle-class Jewish household in Vienna, Austria. Fleeing the Nazis in the 1930s, she and her family relocated to Paris, where Ginsburg worked briefly as an extra in movies. She boarded a Portuguese boat bound for the US and arrived in New York in 1940. The next several years saw her commuting between New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., eventually finding work as an actress in the National Theater.

After the war, she returned to Austria in an attempt to reclaim family property that had been confiscated by the Nazis. There, she met David Ginsburg, a lawyer assisting General Lucius D. Clay, who was in charge of overseeing the American postwar occupation of Germany. David Ginsburg had earlier worked on president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, and eventually helped found Americans for Democratic Action. The pair returned to America, married, settled in Georgetown, and quickly became one of the capital’s most influential power couples.

As the Ginsburg home became a favored social gathering for Washington politicos, Ina Ginsburg grew increasingly successful as a fundraiser, with a special focus on the arts and arts organizations. One of her most talked about dinner parties was held for Andy Warhol in 1975, an event that raised many eyebrows among her peers, who regarded the artist as too controversial and notorious. Ginsburg and Warhol became lifelong friends.

In more recent decades, she worked on many projects to benefit the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and served as a trustee of the American Film Institute, as well as the Washington National Opera.

Ginsburg is survived by two sons Mark and Jonathan, daughter Susan, and two grandchildren.

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