Benjamin de Rothschild
, an heir to the Edmond de Rothschild banking legacy, died at age 57 after suffering a heart attack, his group announced on Saturday.
Edmond de Rothschild Holding SA described Benjamin as a “visionary entrepreneur, passionate about finance, speed, sailing and automobiles.”
A member of one of Europe’s most famous banking families, Benjamin de Rothschild inherited a branch of the family bank that specializes in private wealth management. The Edmond de Rothschild group, which was founded in 1953 by Edmon Adolphe de Rothschile, manages more than $190 billion in assets and employs 2,600 people across 32 global locations. The group is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
Forbes estimates that Benjamin de Rothschild was worth $1.4 billion at the time of his death, with his ownership of Edmond de Rothschild Holding SA accounting for the lion’s share of his fortune.
Benjamin de Rothschild was a descendent of James de Rothschild, the founder of the French branch of the Rothschild family and one of five brothers who were despatched across Europe by founding father Mayer Amschel Mayer Amschel in the early 1800s.
Nial Ferguson’s two-volume history, The House of Rothschild, presents James de Rothschild as the capable and often cantankerous youngest member of the clan. He ran the Paris office during the tumultuous years after the Napoleonic wars, according to Ferguson, and kept pace with the infamous Nathan Rothschild, who ran the family business from London and upon whom much of the family’s success and reputation was built. James de Rothschild was the natural successor to Nathan as the head of the family when he died in 1836.
However, it wasn’t until 1953 that Edmond Adolphe de Rothschild, the great-grandson of James de Rothschild, formed the branch of the bank we know as Edmond de Rothschild today.
This branch of the bank is very different from the more famous Rothschild & Co, the (now) Paris-London based arm founded by Nathan Rothschild in 1810 that is best known for its role in writing the rulebook for the international bond market in the years preceding the first World War. The U.K. branch of the family remains active in banking and its former chairman, Evelyn de Rothschild, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1989 for services to banking and finance.
The relationship between the British and Swiss/French branches in their modern forms has not always been harmonious. In 2018, after going head-to-head in a dispute over the family name, the two arms announced they had reached an agreement on the use of their respective brands, following legal action in 2015 from Benjamin de Rothschild over use of the Rothschild name in private banking. Rothschild & Co and Edmond de Rothschild issued a statement
explaining their settlement “to protect the family name in the banking sector.”
The two branches announced they would unwind all cross shareholding and declared that “neither group may use the name Rothschild on its own in any form whatsoever in the future.”
Since 2015, Edmond de Rothschild has been run by Ariane de Rothschild, Benjamin’s wife—a sharp break from the last will and testament of founder Mayer Amschel, who in 1812 famously wrote that the Rothschild business should pass between males heirs and “belong to my sons exclusively.”