Rocco Nino Gargano

Rocco Nino Gargano
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High Taste at an Early Age

To many 12-year-olds, X-Men comics are the limits of high art. But at 12, Rocco Nino Gargano was painting his own Renaissance-style pictures after school — St. John the Baptist, the Resurrection of Christ, the Virgin holding the blessed infant.

"He loved da Vinci and Raphael," said Kathy Dalessandro-Gargano, his sister, who raised him while their mother worked long hours as a chef at the family's restaurant in Manhattan's financial district. "He got art books from the library and studied them."

As he grew older, his tastes became even more sophisticated. At Columbia University, among classmates in Banana Republic pullovers, he dressed in Armani jeans and Prada shirts.

At 28, an investment banker at Cantor Fitzgerald, he knew the best wines, operas and travel spots. After his father's death, she said, he began pursuing the world's most delicious, beautiful and thrilling things more urgently.

"He was seeking the finer things in life," she said. "His biggest dream was to be famous. He realized that life is too short."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 10, 2002.

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