Wethersfield trustee E. Lisk Wyckoff dies



The Homeland Foundation, owner of Wethersfield, the estate of the late Chauncey Stillman, lost its president and senior trustee.   The New York Times carried an obituary on Sunday reporting E. Lisk Wyckoff, Jr. died on November 26.  He was known to many in the community for the June garden party the Foundation hosted as a benefit for the Bard Music Festival, of which the Foundation was a patron. When the weather was inauspicious, the party was given in the carriage house that housed Mr. Stillman’s collection of period horse-drawn vehicles. 

Mr. Wyckoff had been Chauncey Stillman’s attorney, executor and trustee. He left the day-to-day management of the estate to others, but took an active responsibility for simplifying the operation, removing all the farm animals, retaining only a few driving horses. 

According to the foundation office, Elizabeth Wyckoff, Mr. Wyckoff’s widow, was elected by the trustees to fill the position of chairman at a meeting held last week. 

The staff at Wethersfield said they learned of the death from the NY Times obituary.  

Wyckoff became estranged from Mr. Stillman’s family, making sure they had no say in the running of the farm or the Foundation.   

The Foundation made headlines in 1989 after Mr. Stillman’s death when it sold a painting that had been on loan to the Frick collection.  The portrait of Cosimo de Medici by Jacopo da Carucci, known as Pontormo, was sold at Christies for $35,200,000 to the Getty Museum.  The proceeds became one of the principle assets of the Foundation which was directed to maintain the Wethersfield estate and benefit certain other religious and charitable causes of interest to Mr. Stillman.

The assets of the foundation at the time of Mr. Stillman’s death were thought to be over $100 million according to neighbors who are familiar with the situation.  The assets are now listed as $54 million in the latest filing with the NY State Attorney General’s office.  That filing, for the year ending April 30, 2011, shows that expenses and charitable gifts exceeded income by $2,314,042. The income was $566,138 while the expenses and charitable gifts were $2,759,792 that included $309,000 paid to officers and trustees. 

Neighbors expressed concern that the foundation may not be able to care for the property in the manner consistent with the standards that Mr. Stillman had established.

The vice-president of the Foundation is William J. Ayres, a retired Catholic priest and former radio talk show host. Ayres is a co-founder and executive director of World Hunger Year, a charity. The staff at Wethersfield said they had not yet met Mr. Ayres. Mrs. Wyckoff  is also a trustee and officer. Other trustees are the Rev. John Kamas,  chairman of the Psychotherapy & Spirituality Institute and pastor of St. Jean Baptiste Roman Catholic Church and David Dangremond, chairman of the Wadsworth Atheneum’s board of directors and Carl Schmitt.  The foundation has its office in New York City.