The lion's share of information about Hart's personal life comes from a 7 page document that he wrote about himself. It is interesting because it describes a man who has tried many different things, and in summary, appears to be the stereotypical 'artist'. There are many inconsistencies and contradictions in this text. I have resisted explaining them away and present them here pretty much as written, with few edits. He wrote this document in the 3rd person.
Born August 26th, 1924 in New York City, at 116 St. between 1st Avenue and Pleasant Ave. Hart was born under the name Anthony D'Adamo, father being Nicole D'Adamo, Mother's name was Lucia.
The reason why Anthony created the name HART, he believed that everyone in their Heart should love one another, love beauty, love animals, all creatures, trees, flowers, water, mountains - everything good.
At the age of 12, Anthony's father wanted Anthony to learn his trade as a custom tailor, and after school hours to take the 3rd Ave EL, down to 42nd St., then walk to 45th St & Fifth Avenue to his firm. Anthony's father was considered one of the greatest custom tailors in all of New York. One of Nicole's customers was Nelson Rockafella, making 10 - 12 suits a year plus top coats - overcoats plus private customers sent by Sak's Fifth Avenue, DePinna's, Nat Lewis, Phil Harris, Abercrombie & Fitch. Because Anthony refused many times, his father would have him lay across the bed and would lash Anthony at least ten times across his back with a shaving strap. Then Anthony began to really hate his father.
He loved art, yet was very aggresive in his school work. Hart attended Primary School 32 and Senior High 45, Anthony made all posters for any given holiday in various media from pencil to oil paints.
At the age of 13, in 1937, he started his own little business making washing water (Clorox) called Crystilene or Javella. Finding an old baby cariiage and boiling 5 gallons of bleach for $4.00 plus a bag of color, 10 cents, he would make 80 gallons, putting them into the carriage going to tenement buildings from floor to floor carrying three gallons in each hand.
At the same time, Anthony was an alter boy at our Lady of Mt. Carmel at 187th St. Croton Ave. in Bronx. He loved color and the stained glass at the church was too overwhelming for Anthony. In the back of the church was a small field where you could play ball. Well, Anthony threw a hard ball at one of the church windows and took home some of the glass and gluing them together, which came apart a little later. There must be a way. He loved it. He went on to Corona, Queens, seeking no help. Then he went down to Canal Str., NYC where they sold machinery, wire, brass parts, glass cutters etc.
While walking along Mott Street in China town, in a store window was a stained glass lamp shade on a base. The shade was mainly dark blue glass, all in square pieces. Inside the store were six sewing machines, girls sewing ladies' blouses as a business. They all happened to be Chinese. Down the far back was a Chinese man with a pipe in his mouth, sitting at this small table, with a soldering gun and in his other hand a piece of glass, making a lamp. He taught me almost everything to make a lamp. Well, Anthony never went back home. He stayed down in the cellar for a week. He was told to go home, yet the man gave Anthony some supplies and a place back in Corona that a great Nephew of a Tiffany worker sold supplies from his home. Using large pots, gasoline cans, salad bowls - anything round or cone shape Anthony would use. Making lamps for his mother, relatives, friends.
The war came and Anthony went to war in 1942 coming home in June 1945. Anthony went to work on his lamps and paintings (oil).
In early 1950s Anthony started to sell his lamps, $300 to $800. In the early 1960s, Anthony decided to sell in New York City. Yes, Anthony's lamps went to $2000 and higher. Then it happened. The big Tiffany Dealers and collectors of Tiffany became worried and angry that they had invested high thousands for Tiffany lamps. They made up stories that I quit Tiffany, went to work with Handel. After Handel died, he stole his glass and went underground making his lamps. Well - Anthony was not born yet. Simply, Anthony put a big damper on Tiffany, Handel, and Duffner & Kimberly, the only 3 artists in stained glass. A Wisteria by A. Hart would sell $7500 - $10,000, a Tiffany Wisteria $150,000 to $287,000 - sold at Sotheby's, September 1979.
Then in August 1983, at 9 a.m. Channel 13 had a one hour program on discussing Tiffany and A. Hart lamps. Two lamps by A. Hart and two byTiffany. So much was said. Hart worked alone, never using help by anyone, as a painter paints his or her own painting. When Tiffany Studios came about, he employed 5000 workers, a factory consisting of assembly lines who cut glass, who copper folied the glass, who put the pieces together, who did soldering, who applied the chemicals, who finished the lamp. As far as Hart always said, no way is that Art, it is simply to make money.
As for Anthony in his early 20s, he worked as a coal miner in Windber, PA. for Berwind coal mines, the owners used the name backwards from Windber.
Then, Anthony worked oil tankers as a maritime seaman. Later he became a dance instructor for Arthur Murray Dance Studios in Getty Square, Yonkers and at a branch in Mt. Vernon, New York. Being a great dancer under the name Tony Dano, Anthony went on his own, with his partner Barbara Branka, neice to our baseball player Ralph Branka. Anthony specialized in the Tango and Bolero, worked the Tavern on the Green and other important clubs giving away champaign. Auditioning for Kiss Me Kate and the movie Winged Victory, Arthur Markey producer. Given the lead part in the dance group in both shows, Anthony gave up, the stress of the life style was too great of a burden because of his love of glass.
Yet then again in 1958, Anthony became a NYS certified auto driving instructor, opening two schools, one on Fulton St. and Jay St. in Brooklyn, NY, the other school at 37th Ave between 100 St. and 101 St and Jackson Heights. This was where Anthony met his 3rd wife to be. They both loved the same things. Her name was Christine, she taught Art (oils) at Pratt Institute & Fordham University in the Bronx. Both Anthony and Christine were very fluent in Fine Art and Antiques. Both became licensed as appraisers and Auctioneers, giving up the two schools, and moving to Long Island winding up with four auction galleries: 400 New York Avenue, Huntington, NY, St. James Long Island, NY, Glen Street, Glen Cove Long Island, NY and 999 Northern Blvd, Manhasset. They bought a new house in Stony Brook, Long Island NY. 2 Midfiled Street. This all took place 1964 to 1971.
With being so active just with the auctions, Anthony would seldom miss a day or night without working on his lamps. To overpower Tiffany Lamps was Anthony's dream. Never would Anthony copy Tiffany, Duffner & Kinberly and Handel.
Finally Anthony did something great. An artist named Pairpoint made table lamps, not leaded but a one case glass lampshade. If it fell off a table, it becomes dead. Yet Pairpoint puffed out certain parts of this solid glass dome, puffed out parts could be a grouping of flowers or fruits. They are beautiful. Then, finally Anthony did it puffing out in small bunches of flowers in leaded pieces. This really upset the Tiffany dealer and collector. Some times Anthony would worry about his darling wife & son, that something evil would take place.
By July 4th, 1974, Anthony had sold five lamps to the buyer, selling between $2000 and $2400.
On July 4th, 1974 selling the sixth lamp, a nightmare occured. As Anthony was handed the money, from the basement, from upstairs four detectives all around me. You are under arrest, anything you say may be held against you. What is all this about? They cuffed Anthony, placing Anthony - known as Frank Rudolph as he also used his car, a Buick Century station wagon registered under Frank Rudolph. The charges by the police, selling phony, forged lamps by the famous artist A. Hart.
The Boston Globe printed the story that a Frank Rudolph of 2 Midfield Street, Stonybrook, held on $15,000 bail was selling to a Swamscott residence forged A.Hart lamps all around Boston for a fraction of their value. The Globe, having checked by three experts, claimed they were fine copies if not originals. The Globe printed that the authentic A. Hart lamp is valued at $5000 and up, and most comparable to Tiffany lamps. Because they were being sold cheap, now they assumed Anthony stole these llamps.
We retained lawyers from Havershill, Mass, A relative to Terry Savalas. Anthony still never told the police and the prosecutor that indeed he was Anthony Hart. Threatened by police and prosecutor that Anthony would be in prison for forty years. So worried was Anthony, he never told anyone that he was A. Hart. A Doctor Isquith of Willoughby & DeKalb, Brooklyn had treated Anthony for a slight liver condition and also Anthony was born with a birth mark, his hands and feet had a growing callous that glass had no effect in chipping his glass with a pair of ordinary pliers. That is all Anthony ever used. A letter to this effect, that became a great asset to his work, was sent to Shirley Kesselman of Englewood, New Jersey stating about Anthony having a tubial callous condition. Shirley was or still is a collector of 17 or 18 A. Hart lamps. So, Anthony had told his first lawyer, look at my hands, his lawyer said what abhout your hands, what type of work do you do, you have rough hands. When Anthony told the lawyer that he was A.Hart, the lawyer became stunned. It might have taken five minutes for the lawyer to respond. First question, why did you use Frank Rudolph, Anthony explained to his lawyer, for embarassing, selling and cheapening his own art. Secondly, Anthony told the lawyer, he was born Anthony D'Adamo. The lawyer, becomming very nervous and excited said, can you prove all this, will you take a polygraph test. Of course I will said Anthony, the lawyer dialed F. Lee Bailey's office in Boston, the lawyer stating too hot to handle. After telling the story to F. Lee, my lawyer handed me the phone. First question by F. Lee was, can you prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are A. Hart, Anthony answered yes . F. Lee told Anthony not to mention to anyone who you are.
F. Lee ordered Anthony to be at his penthouse first 11:00am the following day. Anthony stayed over near Boston at the Holiday Inn. Meeting with F. Lee the next morning, Lee mentioned polygraph test, also bring your molds, glass, tools etc and show us. Two days later I went to the Lee firm. Before Anthony did go to the firm, Lee and two other lawyers went to where they hold evidence, they examined the five lamps, studied the work. Well, Anthomy went to the penthouse. At this large, very elongated beautiful desk, sitting Lee at the very middle, and along each side sitting were six lawyers left of Lee, six lawyers right of Lee. Taking one mold out of his large black bag and a paper bag containing glass, tools etc. Laying paper on the desk Lee commented please do not destroy my beautiful desk and my rugs. They all laughed, Anthony did not, he was very embarassed and shy, out of place. Then Anthony started. Within seconds, Lee said put everything back in your bag, no polygraph, you are indeed A. Hart. They had the girls serve cocktails. Lee said for you, Anthony, more or less a freebe. You will receive a date to appear, you will always sit in the last row and you will not confront his honor. In the meantime say nothing to anyone, if you receive calls, hang up. When Anthony appeared for court, he was early, but the detectives were there, the prosecutor, some news reporters. The first comment from the detectives, you must be loaded with money, F. Lee Bailey. Anthony said nothing, the prosecutor let me see your hands, Anthony refused. The prosecutor stated if you are A. Hart, then I'm not a prosecutor. Somehow it leaked out, about Bailey and the lawyers felt it came from custodial evidence. The case was soon squashed. The firm was all set to sue in the million amount the buyer, Boston Globe (although the Globe put a feather in Anthony's cap). I refused to sue, for the firm did not yet know that Anthony Hart A.K.A. Anthony D'Adamo, was not Frank Rudolph. Could all of this that happened be a big set-up, try to frame Anthony, to rid of him. Because finger prints of Anthony's hands showed nothing, all guess one in a zillion such happenings.
In late September, 1975 Anthony and his wife were in Las Vegas, staying at the Hacienda Hotel - Motel, first Casino on Tropicana coming into Vegas, Anthony always stayed there. Anthony's wife drove down the strip & stopped at a stained glass supply house. She had bought a large piece of Uroboros fine pink glass. Somehow, A. Hart was mentioned. The owner said I wish I could meet this man, I'd like to pick his brain, he is so vain cutting his name in tiny pieces and placing the name in between foliage or flowers, plus and African butterfly called Nymphalidae, in every lamp he made or still makes. The owner of the shop was very proud and very happy and rich.
He had told Anthony's wife that Liberace commissioned him to stained glass his home, at the tune of $250,000, that Liberace loved stained glass. The owner said why Liberace lives right opposite the Hacienda, No. 22 Shirley Street., Las Vegas. They had taken two old houses next to one another and more or less built between the two houses, making it one very big house. Surrounding the house was a tall black iron picket fence, with an intercom at the main gate. Anthony and his wife Christine left New York with four lamps with plans to go in to L.A. Fine Art and Antiques Show. As going cross country, Anthony sold three of his lamps. The one remaining was a 20" diameter Cherry Blossom table lamp. Anthony's wife said why not go to Liberace's house, I'm sure he would love it. Of course Anthony said No, but the next day I was at Liberace's house ringing the Intercom. A voice spoke very soft and low, asking can I help you and state your name. Soon Anthony replied, explaining what he had. Seem to look like a young boy walked down to the gate, Anthony went right to his car and showed the lamp. The young man had told me that the Master was resting for he was to open at the M.G.M. and also his first showing of his car museum on Tropicana, $3.50 admission, the following day. The young man's name was Nikki from Italy. Once upon a time sidekick to Liberace. Nikki was pretty sure that the master would negotiate.
The next morning at 10:00am, Anthony was in the home of Liberace. Entering the foyer was a 16th century small Bombay commode, carrara marble floors, spiral stairs going upstairs, just out of sight. The lamp was set on the commode and then lit. Anthony told Liberace he admired his fine work on stage. Liberace asked how much he was asking, Anthony replied $5000, Liberace said seeing how much he admired him, would he not consider giving the lamp to him as a gift? Anthony did not know if he was serious. Anyway, Liberace dickered Anthony down to $3800 - with all his millions, confusing, but Anthony accepted the money. Then there was Mario Andretti; Red Fox, who had an antique gallery on Tropicana, Sergio Franki (singer), Tiffany house on Rodeo on the cormer of Main St, Beverly Hills, selling Tiffany. A 20" diameter oriental poppy (deep dome shape) accordingly sold to Barbra Streisand.
In the next book that will be published, far more exciting happenings and a lot more photos of the original A. Hart Lamps. We are awaiting the public to send photos of lamps and paintings by A. Hart.