“Suddenly, absolutely overnight, 25,000 of the rarest photographs ever taken were off the market,” said Weston Naef, who helped Mr. Wolf plan the acquisition for the Getty and later became its first curator of photography. “It would be like someone removing half the gold from Fort Knox.”
Along with steady work for private clients, he also acted as a matchmaker of sorts, especially for young and under-the-radar artists. In 1997 he introduced the organizers of the Whitney Museum Biennial to Aaron Rose, an immensely talented photographer who was so hermetic that he had never participated in a major show. (He died in February at 84.)
Mr. Wolf lent 10 daguerreotypes by the 19th-century French photographer Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey in 2019 for a show at the Met Museum, in front of which he had hawked photos out of a suitcase more than 40 years before.
He collected friends as well. By all accounts warm and curious, Mr. Wolf counted not just artists but musicians, politicians and writers in his circle, including both the diplomat Richard Holbrooke and the composer John Cage. One friend, the Italian architect Ettore Sottsass, designed a home for Mr. Wolf in Colorado. Another, Merce Cunningham, put him on the board of his dance company.
He later moved beyond photography into decorative arts, furniture and American painting, a favorite of his parents, who had endowed a gallery at the Met dedicated to 19th-century American art. He co-produced a 2006 documentary, “Andy Warhol,” by Ric Burns, which won a Peabody Award.
“If one is interested in beauty, in finding beauty, suffering from a sort of obsessive compulsive disorder is a quality,” the painter Francesco Clemente, a longtime friend of Mr. Wolf’s, said in a phone interview. “He had that compulsive quality to hunt and search for things.”