Ten Minutes with William Louis-Dreyfus
William Louis-Dreyfus is a French-born businessman who has lived in Bedford since 1970.
By Geoffrey Morris
William Louis-Dreyfus is a French-born businessman who has lived in Bedford since 1970. An avid art collector, on April 29 he will host at his private Mt. Kisco art gallery a fund-raiser for Bedford 2020 (bedford2020.org), the environmental group whose mission is to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent over the next eight years. His daughter is Emmy and Golden Globe winning actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, most famous for her role of Elaine in “Seinfeld” and now "Veep."
Why your interest in Bedford 2020?Well, because I am not suicidal like certain people who deny the impact that our way of living is having on the environment.
Will its success have a ripple effect?I don’t know. It should. It depends if anyone is paying attention. But it would be wonderful if it started a little groundswell.
Do you come at it with knowledge? I am not an expert on the topic. But it seems to me that if the air you breathe and the water you drink is screwed up, you don’t need much knowledge to react to that. To the extent you don’t react, you are a grossly irresponsible jerk.
Tell me about your interest in art. It’s based mainly on vanity. Part of that is that I think I know how to choose it. I don’t have anyone advising me. All of this art I chose.
Do the pieces in the collection have something in common? All the pieces are worked—there is an artistic product. I am not a big fan of the minimalist trend. Less is not more. My pieces are thought through. They have a purpose.
Have many people been in the gallery? Oh, no. Not many. Some gallery types. Critics. A few schools—kids from the Harlem Children’s Zone.
Why are you interested in the Harlem Children’s Zone? I don’t do much philanthropy, but I do have some scholarships for black-American students exclusively. It’s time for us to fess up to our sins and do justice. The Harlem Children’s Zone runs 18 schools in Harlem. They start in pre-K and go all through college. To be effective, you really need to start early in education. As its head Geoffrey Canada says, the only way to cure poverty is through education. So that’s why.
What is the purpose of the gallery? My nuttiness, I guess. To get the best stuff and then give it to a museum when you kick off.
What is the goal of the Bedford 2020 event at your gallery on April 29? To get enough people to kick in some money for 2020. I am not the host, but I will walk the folks around and ask them for money.
Are you very involved in 2020? No, but my daughter is very involved in Heal the Bay on the west coast. I plant trees. I do that.
Do you ever put brush to canvas? Oh, no. No. No. No. I have no concept how to do that.
We need to take your picture. Is that ok? No. I hate the culture of the personality. It doesn’t matter what I look like. But you can use the Red Grooms painting of me.