Public Release: 

Alfred Bader to present 2003 Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture

Art collector, entrepreneur, scientist will discuss building a billion-dollar company from a small start-up; the talk is free and open to the public

Chemical Heritage Foundation

Alfred Bader, a noted art collector, entrepreneur, and scientist, will present the 2003 Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture at the Chemical Heritage Foundation on Thursday, 18 September. The talk, "Learning from Experience: The Aldrich Story, the Rocky Road to Success," will begin at 6:00 p.m. and will be followed by a reception at 7:00 p.m.

"Alfred Bader's story is as fresh as today's news, yet encompasses the best and worst times of the 20th century," said Arnold Thackray, president of CHF. "Bader escaped Austria before World War II, was interned then educated in Canada, found success as a scientist in America, then turned a small business supplying rare chemicals into a billion-dollar enterprise."

Bader not only melded science and business into success but managed to make his lifelong passion for collecting part of his growing enterprise. As his firm, the Aldrich Chemical Company, grew he began illustrating his catalogues with the fine art he had collected since his 20s. The artwork gave his sales literature a distinctive look and gave Aldrich a unique identity in the marketplace.

After retiring from leadership of Aldrich and its successor company, Sigma-Aldrich, Bader became a full-time art dealer. He operates a gallery in Milwaukee whose collection can be browsed online at At noon on Friday, 19 September, the day after the Ullyot Lecture, Bader will give a CHF Brown Bag Lecture, "The Alchemical Paintings at CHF," in which he will guide the audience through the extensive collection of alchemical art at CHF.

The Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture is cosponsored annually by the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of the Sciences, and the Philadelphia and Delaware Sections of the American Chemical Society. Additional support for this year's activities is provided by Albany Molecular Research, Inc., Promega Corporation, and Strem Chemicals, Inc.

About Alfred Bader

Born in Vienna in 1924, Bader moved to England at the age of 14 to escape Nazi persecution. After the war began he was deported in 1940 as an enemy alien to Canada, where he was interned. Two years later he was released to study engineering chemistry at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

After a research fellowship in organic chemistry at Harvard, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1950, Bader joined the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (PPG) as a research chemist in its Milwaukee paint division. In 1954 he devised and patented a method of preparing bisphenolic acid for which PPG received $1 million from Johnson Wax--a rare accomplishment for a young research chemist.

Around that time, problems with the supply of organic chemicals for research led Bader to found the Aldrich Chemical Company and the Alfred Bader Chemical Library, which supplied small quantities of rare chemicals at nominal cost. To make his sales catalogue distinctive and interesting, Bader included not only details of the products' physical and chemical properties and references to recent chemical literature, but reproductions of paintings in the collection he had begun accumulating while in his 20s.

In the early 1970s the Aldrich Chemical Company merged with biochemical supplier Sigma. In 1992 Bader left the board of Sigma-Aldrich after 40 years as a member to pursue a second career as an art historian and art dealer.


About the Chemical Heritage Foundation

The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF), a not-for-profit organization, operates a historical research library; creates and circulates traveling exhibits; develops and disseminates educational materials; publishes books and Chemical Heritage magazine; offers fellowships and travel grants; conducts oral histories with leading scientists and industrialists; and hosts awards, conferences, and public events. For more information, visit

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