ALTMAN, BENJAMIN (1840–1913), U.S. merchant, art collector, and philanthropist. Altman was born on New York's Lower East Side. Altman and his brother Morris opened a store in 1865. After Morris's death in 1876 Altman assumed sole control over the business, which he developed into a large, high-quality department store. When Altman moved the business, known as "B. Altman and Co.," to Fifth Avenue in 1906, it became the first large store in New York to be established in a residential area. At the same time michael friedsam became his partner and contributed considerably to the growth of the establishment. After Benjamin's death and until its closing, the store was run by the Altman Foundation, a philanthropic trust donating funds to many charities, including Jewish organizations. Altman was also a pioneer in the provision of social, medical, and recreational facilities for employees. Altman's art collection, appraised upon his death at 15 million dollars, was bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: DAB, 1 (1928); New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, Handbook of The Benjamin Altman Collection (1915). (Hanns G. Reissner)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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