On December 15, 1966, Baroness Tamara de Kuffner gave Rice University two edicts awarded to her father-in-law Baron Karoly Kuffner. Emperor Franz-Joseph of Austria-Hungary gave the edicts, statements of nobility, to Karoly Kuffner in honor of the quality of beef grown on his land. The emperor bestowed the edicts on two separate occasions around the turn of the 20th century.
The edicts are just part of the story. The Baroness was no ordinary noblewoman. She was also the artist Tamara de Lempicka née Maria Górska. A noted Art Deco artist, she was famous for her portraiture of notable people throughout Europe. She took up with other artists and writers in Paris in the 1920s, Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau, among others.
She went on to marry Baron Raoul Kuffner von Diószeg in February 1934 after a long affair. Around 1939, they moved to Hollywood, occupying King Vidor’s former residence. The Baron passed in 1962.
The Baroness de Kuffner arrived in Houston in September 1963. She chose a Regency House apartment on Westheimer in Houston and lived in the city until 1978. During her time in Houston, she gifted the edicts, rare books, furniture, china, and silver to Rice.
Holmes, Ann. “Baronness Brings Along Furniture – And Collection of Art, Stories.” The Houston Chronicle. 1964 February 28.
Bath, Alan Harris. “Treasures in the Attic.” The Flyleaf. Summer 2003. 16-17.
Wikipedia. Tamara de Lempicka.