Peter Hort – Lawyer, Judge, Art Collector, Father Of Four, Dies At 51
Peter Hort’s Passing
It is with great sadness that I write this: Peter Hort, a longtime Tribecan and also a lawyer and art collector, died on Monday, Oct. 3, from bile duct cancer. He was 51 and the father of four children whom he raised here in the neighborhood with his wife, Jamie.
I know a lot of folks here knew Peter — with four kids, you cover a lot of territory over the years. But that’s not the sole reason. It’s mostly because he was one of the most warm, friendly and sincere guys you could ever meet. And that translated through his illness as well. He created an Instagram account to track what turned out to be a two-year struggle to eradicate the disease, and in it he documents the moments of triumph and horrible setbacks with transparency and humor. It’s a revelation.
Peter grew up in Edgemont, NY, attended The George Washington University and then Fordham Law, eventually starting his own private practice. He was also an administrative law judge for the NYC Environmental Control Board at OATH, the city’s tribunal that hears a huge range of cases involving the city and its laws. But his passions were art and family, and so much of his life revolved around those two things.
When his eldest sister died of stomach cancer at age 30, her family and friends founded the Rema Hort Mann Foundation in 1995. The organization offers emerging artists unrestricted grants by nomination only, and offers cancer patients undergoing treatment grants for travel, accommodations, child care and related expenses to familial support.
(Peter died on his sister Rema’s birthday. She would have been 58 years old.)
It was at the foundation’s first fundraiser — held in the Soho loft of art collectors Eileen and Michael Cohen — that he met Jamie, their daughter. Peter’s parents, Tribecans Susan and Michael Hort, had known the family for years but it was that night when Jamie and Peter first got to know each other. They were married four years later.
Art would continue to be a huge part of the couple’s lives: they collected together; Peter helped Jamie with her job of art advising; Jamie helped Peter run RISBE (an acronym created from their children’s names), which ensures that artists are paid promptly through gallery sales or consignments.
“We were just never apart,” Jamie said. “We did everything together. We really did. We even rarely travelled without one another.”
The couple married in 1999 and moved to Tribeca two years later. The kids were all born here: Rema, 21; Sam, 19; Bess, 17; and Esme, 15. Peter coached in both Downtown soccer and little leagues. And the family functioned as a unit of six. They ate together every night and saw the lockdown for covid as a gift, especially in retrospect.
Along with his day jobs, Peter oversaw the grant programs at the Rema Hort Mann Foundation for 27 years, reviewing the Quality of Life Cancer Grant applications as a way to honor his sister. And he ran for Congress in 2004, challenging Jerry Nadler on the Republican line. (His connections to the district go back four generations: his great-grandfather founded a printing business in the West Village that passed down to his grandfather and father and that his brother runs to this day.)
He started the Instagram account at the suggestion of his brother-in-law, who thought it could be a kind of therapy for him. And it was. It allowed him to keep people in his life informed, but also to meet some of his own challenges head-on. And his experience in the hospital led to another project — he commissioned a silver guardian angel to wear around his neck and then distributed them his fellow cancer patients — a token to remind them that they are not truly alone, even when it often felt that way. Jamie hopes to keep that project going even now. There were times during covid when she could not be in the hospital with him, and she wants to help others deal with that isolation — for both the patient and the caregiver. Those times were some of the hardest. For the antidote for that, watch the video below.
“He was the love of my life,” she said. “That was even the names we had stored for each other on our phones. He was all about us.”
In addition to his children, wife and parents, Peter is survived by his brother, Andy Hort, and sister, Shoshana Hort.