Guy de Rothschild

Guy de Rothschild
Born Guy Édouard Alphonse Paul de Rothschild
(1909-05-21)21 May 1909
Paris, France
Died 12 June 2007(2007-06-12) (aged 98)
Paris, France
Residence Château de Ferrières
Hôtel Lambert
Education Lycée Condorcet
Lycée Louis-le-Grand
Occupation Soldier, financier, philanthropist, racehorse owner/breeder
Board member of
Religion Judaism
Spouse(s) Alix Hermine Schey de Koromla (m. 1937; div. 1956)
Marie-Hélène van Zuylen van Nyevelt (m. 1957; d. 1996)

with Schey de Koromla:

with van Zuylen van Nyevelt:

two stepdaughters:

  • Lili Krahmer
  • Bettina Krahmer
Parent(s) Édouard A. J. de Rothschild
Germaine Alice Halphen
Honors Croix de Guerre

Baron Guy Édouard Alphonse Paul de Rothschild (pronounced: [baʁɔ̃ ɡi edwaːʁt‿alfɔ̃s pɔl də ʁɔt.ʃild]; 21 May 1909 – 12 June 2007) was a French banker and member of the Rothschild family. He chaired the bank Rothschild Frères from 1967 to 1979, when it was nationalized by the French government, and maintained possessions in other French and foreign companies including Imerys. He was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1985.[1]

Early life and education

Baron Guy de Rothschild was born in Paris, the son of Baron Édouard de Rothschild (1868–1949) and his wife, the former Germaine Alice Halphen (1884–1975). He has three siblings. Guy's elder brother, Édouard Alphonse Émile Lionel (1906–1911), died at the age of four of appendicitis;[2] he also had two younger sisters, Jacqueline and Bethsabée. Half of his great-grandparents were Rothschilds. He was a great-great grandson of the German patriarch of the Rothschild family Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1743–1812), who founded the family's banking in the 18th century in Frankfurt, Germany.

He grew up at his parents' townhouse on the corner of the rue de Rivoli and the Place de la Concorde in Paris (a property once occupied by Talleyrand and now the United States Embassy) and their country estate at Château de Ferrières, 25 miles north-east of Paris. Château de Ferrières is a massive house built to a design by Joseph Paxton in the 1850s, based on Paxton's earlier design of Mentmore Towers for Baron Mayer de Rothschild of the English branch of the Rothschild family.

He was educated at the Lycée Condorcet and Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris, and by private tutors. He undertook military service with the cavalry at Saumur, and played golf for France. He won the Grand Prix de Sud-Ouest in 1948.

Personal life

Guy de Rothschild married twice:

After his second marriage, Guy de Rothschild renovated the Château de Ferrières, using it to put on lavish balls in the early 1970s, before donating it to the University of Paris in 1975. The same year, he bought the Hôtel Lambert on the Île Saint-Louis in Paris, the top floors of which became his Paris residence.

Service in World War II

In 1940, as a result of the German occupation of France in World War II, Guy de Rothschild's parents and sister Bethsabée fled France and made their way to safety in New York City. Guy de Rothschild had enlisted in the French Army and was a company commander in the 3rd Light Mechanised Division during the Battle of France in early 1940. After fighting the Nazis at Carvin, he was part of the French Army that was forced to retreat to Dunkirk. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre for his actions on the beaches at Dunkirk, from where he was evacuated to England. He immediately returned to France, landing at Brest, and taking charge of the family's office at La Bourboule, near Clermont-Ferrand.

Under the Vichy government, his father and uncles were stripped of their French nationality, removed from the register of the Légion d'honneur, and the family was forced to sell its possessions. Rothschild managed to persuade the buyers to grant options under which he would later be able to buy the family's interests back. He left France again, via Spain and Portugal, to join his parents in New York City. He joined the Free French Forces and boarded the cargo ship, Pacific Grove, to travel back to Europe. His ship was torpedoed and sunk in March 1943, and he was rescued after spending 12 hours in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. In England, he joined the staff of General Koenig at Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force near Portsmouth.

Banking and business

Guy de Rothschild studied law at university then joined de Rothschild Frères in 1931 when it was being run by his father and a cousin, Robert de Rothschild, who died in 1946. As part of his learning to manage the family's businesses, in 1933 he joined the executive board of their Northern Railway Company.

At the end of World War II, Guy de Rothschild returned to the bank's offices at rue Laffitte in Paris in 1944. On his father's death in 1949, Guy de Rothschild took formal control of the business. Years later, Rothschild was on the cover of the 20 December 1963 issue of TIME magazine in a story that said he took "over the family's French bank during the disorder of war and defeat, changed its character from stewardship of the family fortune to expansive modern banking."

Following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Guy de Rothschild served as a director of the Banque de France. On his father's death, he also inherited part of Château Lafite-Rothschild but did not run it.

Georges Pompidou, who would later become President and Prime Minister of France, was recruited by Guy de Rothschild from a job as a teacher, and worked for him from 1953 to 1962, during which time he became the general manager of the Rothschild bank. The bank diversified, from investment management under De Rothschild Frères to the deposit-taking Banque de Rothschild, with branches throughout France. Guy was its president from 1968 to 1978. In 1968 Guy de Rothschild became a partner at N M Rothschild & Sons, London, while cousin Sir Evelyn de Rothschild was appointed a director of Banque Rothschild, Paris.

Imetal S.A.

In France, Rothschild developed the country's largest private uranium mining company, the Compagnie Française des Minerais d'Uranium. In 1961, Guy de Rothschild took over as Chairman of Imetal S.A. in which the family had a substantial stake. His involvement marked the first time any Rothschild had personally participated in the management of the business. Among its holdings, the international mining conglomerate owned Société Le Nickel (SLN) in New Caledonia. In 1969, SLN acquired Peñarroya, a Chilean based company which mined and processed lead, zinc and copper. Two years later SLN took over La Compagnie de Mokta, which specialized in iron, manganese, sand, gravel and uranium. Rothschild restructured the family's various mining interests, including Peñarroya which became part of SLN.


In the early 1970s the government of France began nationalizing a number of industries and after declaring nickel to be a vital market commodity, SLN's assets were nationalized in 1974 and placed under a new company, Société Metallurgique. The result left the Rothschild's SLN as a holding company with a fifty percent interest in Société Metallurgique.

When the Rothschild's bank was nationalized in 1981 by the socialist government of François Mitterrand, a discouraged Guy de Rothschild left France and moved temporarily to New York City. "A Jew under Pétain, a pariah under Mitterrand, that's enough!" (French: Juif sous Pétain, paria sous Mitterrand, cela suffit!) he wrote in a frontpage op-ed in Le Monde in 1981.[4] Following another change in government policy, in 1987 a new banking business was established by his son David and nephew Éric, who founded Rothschild & Cie Banque.

Thoroughbred racing

Guy de Rothschild was a renowned breeder of Thoroughbreds as the family owns Haras de Meautry in Normandy. He inherited Château de Reux in the horse breeding area in Lower Normandy about 125 miles north of Paris. He produced prominent race horses, the most famous perhaps was Exbury.

Guy de Rothschild chaired the association of racehorse breeders in France from 1975 to 1982.

Among the major races Guy de Rothschild's horses won were:[5]

Art collector

The French Rothschild family had long been collectors of art beginning with James Mayer de Rothschild made the first significant acquisitions. Notable in his collection, Guy de Rothschild inherited Jan Vermeer's The Astronomer. In 1940 the Nazis confiscated it from his father and sent it to Germany. In 1945 the painting was returned to the Rothschild family and acquired by the Louvre in 1983.


In 1950, Guy de Rothschild became the first president of the Fonds Social Juif Unifié (FSJU) (United Jewish Welfare Fund), the major French philanthropic agency for the Jewish community.

In 1975, Rothschild and his wife donated the Château de Ferrières to the University of Paris.


Widowed in 1996, Guy de Rothschild died in 2007.[6]


See also


  1. Vanity Fair
  2. The Whims of Fortune: The Memoirs of Guy de Rothschild
  3. Jewish Encyclopedia: SCHEY, PHILIPP, BARON VON KOROMLA retrieved March 4, 2012
  4. "Les Rothschild, rois des banquiers". L'Express. December 19, 2007.
  6. Lewis, Paul (June 14, 2007). "Baron Guy de Rothschild, Leader of French Arm of Bank Dynasty, Dies at 98". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-30. Baron Guy de Rothschild, the patriarch of the French branch of the famous banking dynasty who rebuilt and expanded its Paris bank after it was seized during World War II and then saw it survive another government takeover in the 1980s, died Tuesday in Paris. He was 98.

Further reading

External links

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