Joel Mallin ’60

On Display

Winter 2012

Joel Mallin ’60 still recalls exactly what he did with the first paycheck he received as a tax law associate at the Manhattan office of Roberts & Holland. “I went and bought a Kirchner woodcut,” he says, adding that the German Expressionist print was small—only about 8 inches by 6 inches. “I gave the gallery $50 and paid the balance over six months.”

A lifelong art enthusiast, Mallin began working at Roberts & Holland on the recommendation of then Columbia Law School dean William C. Warren, one of the firm’s founders. Tax law was a natural fit for Mallin, who shifted away from a career in metallurgical engineering to attend the Law School.

“In engineering school, you’re taught that there’s an answer to every problem,” he says. “When you get to law school, that is very useful. I certainly dealt with numbers very easily and was able to analyze ideas in terms of tax savings and alternate possibilities.”

In 1964, Mallin put his tax acumen to work in Washington, D.C., where he served as a staff assistant for the chief counsel of the Internal Revenue Service. The Bronx native soon returned to private practice and eventually started his own company, which specialized in leasing heavy-duty transportation equipment.

Throughout the course of his career, Mallin put a priority on building his art collection. He and his wife, Sherry, began acquiring sculpture in the 1980s, and their collection now includes works by Richard Serra and Andy Goldsworthy, as well as a section of Big Bambú (pictured above), a sculptural installation that appeared on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2010.

Mallin explains that he is semi-retired these days, but he remains very busy. The couple’s 15-acre Westchester property currently features 70 outdoor sculptural installations and between 2,000 and 3,000 visitors come by each year to view them. “We do this because it gives us great joy,” says Mallin. “It’s a labor of love.”