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Walter Hoving

Walter Hoving (December 2, 1897 – November 27, 1989) was a Swedish-born American businessman and writer. He was the chairman of Tiffany & Company from 1955 to 1980.[1]

Walter Hoving
Born(1897-12-02)December 2, 1897
DiedNovember 27, 1989(1989-11-27) (aged 91)
EducationDe Witt Clinton High School
Brown University
OccupationFormer chairman of Tiffany & Company


Early lifeEdit

Hoving was born in Stockholm in 1897 to Johannes Hoving, a surgeon and Helga Rundberg, an opera singer. He moved to United States with his parents in 1903. He completed his school education at the Barnard School and De Witt Clinton High School in New York City. In the year 1920, Hoving received his bachelor's degree from Brown University where he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

He started working at R. H. Macy & Company in 1924 and became vice-president at the age of 30. He studied arts at Metropolitan Museum for four years to enhance his knowledge of painting, textile design and furniture. In the year, 1932 he joined Montgomery Ward & Company as vice-president in charge of sales where he worked for four years. In 1936 he joined Lord & Taylor and worked as the president of the firm till 1946.

Hoving founded the Hoving Corporation in 1946 which included Bonwit Teller until he sold it in 1960.[2]

Tiffany & CompanyEdit

Hoving at Tiffany & Co.

Hoving bought a controlling share of Tiffany & Co. in 1955, at that time company's performance appeared to be gradually declining with around $7 million worth of business a year. Under his supervision, company's sales grew up to $100 million by the year 1980.

He hired Van Day Truex, a design director and allowed him to design freely without worrying about selling it. He also hired famous designers like Jean Schlumberger, Elsa Peretti, and Gene Moore. Moore went on to design Tiffany's famous Fifth Avenue windows.

Hoving maintained standards at Tiffany & Co. by refusing to sell diamond rings to men, nothing silver plated and no account charged for customers who had been impolite towards the salespeople.

He was also the founder of Walter Hoving Home, a rehabilitation center for women with drug addiction and alcoholism. [3]

Sales to John F. KennedyEdit

Hoving made two sales to President John F. Kennedy. Once in 1960, Hoving met then President-elect, after store hours, and assisted him in selecting a brooch by Jean Schlumberger with rubies and diamonds for Jacqueline Kennedy. The Metropolitan Museum of Art displayed the brooch in the exhibition Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years. [4]

Kennedy contacted Hoving again in 1962 and requested thirty two Lucite calendar mementos for his assistants who helped him during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Hoving's responded with the gist that they don't sell plastic. However, Tiffany's provided mementos to Kennedy made of silver. [5]

Later yearsEdit

Avon Products, Inc. acquired Tiffany & Company in 1979. Hoving resigned following year and started his own consulting firm that specialized in retail design and management and started work on his memoirs that were never published. He also focused his efforts on his philanthropic activities and stayed at his home in Newport, Rhode Island. He contacted David Mitchell then Chairman of Avon offering to purchase back Tiffany & Company, but his offers were never seriously entertained. Henry B. Platt took over Tiffany & Company as the chairman after Hoving's resignation but was fired five months later on the grounds of incompetency.

In an interview for the New York Times, Angela Cummings stated: At Tiffany's I met Walter Hoving, she recalled, and he looked at the little portfolio I had and said, You want to work for us, go ahead and try. It was like a threat, but at the time I didn't even know who he was.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

Hoving with Jane Pickens Langley

Hoving married Mary Osgood Field in 1924. They divorced in 1936. In 1937 he married, Pauline Vandervoort Rogers who died in 1976. He married Jane Pickens Langley in 1977 and their marriage lasted till his death.

Walter Hoving was a brother of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity at Brown University (Upsilon chapter). He was a co-founder of the Salvation Army Association of New York, and gave his time to the United Negro College Fund and the United Service Organizations, USO.

He died at the age of 91 in Newport, Rhode Island. He was survived by a son, Thomas Hoving, a daughter Petrea Hoving Durand and four grandchildren, John Hoving, Samuel Osgood Hoving, Thomas Durand and Petrea Hoving.[7]


  • Tiffany's Table Manners for Teen-agers (Random House, 1960)
  • Your Career in Business (Tiffany & Co., 1978)



Other sourcesEdit

  • Benson, Adolph B.; Naboth Hedin Swedes In America (New York: Haskell House Publishers, Inc. 1969)

External linksEdit