The New York art and rare books dealer John McWhinnie died yesterday in a snorkeling accident while on vacation in the British Virgin Islands. He was 43.
Virgin Islands police told East Hampton Patch that McWhinnie and his wife, jewelry designer Maria Beaulieu, were caught in a current while snorkeling on a coral reef off Savannah Bay beach, half an hour from Tortola. A man on the beach managed to pull Ms. Beaulieu from the water, but was unable to find her husband, who was recovered by emergency personnel half an hour later and was unable to be resuscitated.
Mr. McWhinnie divided his time between Manhattan and East Hampton, managing Glenn Horowitz’s flagship East Hampton bookstore for eight years before opening his own stores with Mr. Horowitz as a partnership in 2005. A downtown fixture, he championed the work of artists like Cindy Sherman, Matthew Satz, Nicholas Weber, Peter Sabbath, Jameson Ellis and Richard Prince, a prodigious book collector who frequently bought from McWhinnie.
In a conversation with Glenn O’Brien for Interview, Mr. Prince said McWhinnie helped him track down a copy of On the Road that was once owned by Neal Cassady, the man who served as Jack Kerouac’s inspiration for the character Dean Moriarty.