Paul Gottlieb, an influential figure in art book publishing and the former president, chairman and editor-in-chief of Harry N. Abrams, died at his home in Manhattan of an apparent heart attack on the morning of June 5. He was 67.
Gottlieb's sudden death comes less than two months after he announced his resignation from Abrams after more than 20 years to take over as executive director of the Aperture Foundation, a respected publisher of noted international photographers.
Gottlieb began his publishing career in the mailroom at William Morris Agency before becoming an agent. He joined American Heritage Publishing in 1962, was publisher of Horizon and American Heritage magazines, and went on to serve as president and publisher of AHP from 1970 to 1975. He ran his own consulting firm, Paul Gottlieb Associates, before joining the New York division of Thames and Hudson as president and publisher. He joined Random House in 1979 as v-p for special projects and direct marketing. He moved to Abrams in 1980 as executive v-p and editor-in-chief. At the time of his death, Gottlieb was a vice-chairman of the Martiniere Group, Abrams's French parent company, and was winding down his work at Abrams.
Gottlieb was a leading force in art book publishing over the last 20 years, and his successors at Abrams credit him with doubling the size and revenues of the company. He recognized the importance of museums in marketing and selling art books and encouraged institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art to have publishers bid on catalogues for blockbuster exhibitions and to aggressively market them to bookstores. He is credited with expanding Abrams's textbook and calendar publishing; creating its children's book program; and, most importantly, with having a singular knack for generating publicity for art books. He turned such books as Andrew Wyeth's 1987 The Helga Pictures (the first art book to be a BOMC main selection) and the 1995 The Hidden Treasures Revealed, a book on the Hermitage in Russia, into major media and book publishing events.