Most of Paul’s eccentricities were perhaps the normal ones for a loner who had been brought up amid vast wealth. He was a fiercely private man who liked to book entire railway carriages for himself, even when travelling with his family. His wife, Hilde, who was half blind and had been his pupil, bore him two children in Vienna before their marriage; the elder child had been conceived shortly after their first piano lesson, when Hilde was eighteen years old and Paul was forty-seven. Because Hilde was not Jewish, Paul was open to charges of “racial defilement,” and in 1938 he fled Austria. When his wife and children arrived in the United States, in 1941, he set them up in a house on Long Island, which he visited on weekends from his apartment on Riverside Drive. Arriving in New York without a valet, he soon ran into trouble. When his clothes were stolen from a hotel—he had left them outside his room, presuming that someone would wash them—he sat around in bedsheets until a candidate for the post of personal assistant came up with the suggestion that more clothes be bought from a shop. She was hired. Another anecdote has him sallying forth into the street wearing a hat that was still attached to its box.

Anthony Gottlieb, “A Nervous Splendor”