Sigmund Sternberg

Sigmund Sternberg
Born 2 June 1921
Budapest, Hungary
Died 18 October 2016
Occupation Businessman, philanthropist
Spouse(s) Ruth Schiff
Hazel Sternberg
Children 1 son, 1 daughter

Sir Sigmund Sternberg, KCSG, GCFO, JP[1] (Hungarian: Sternberg Zsigmond; 2 June 1921 – 18 October 2016) was a British philanthropist, interfaith campaigner, businessman and Labour Party donor.

Early life

Sternberg was born in 1921 in Budapest, Hungary.[2][3] He was Jewish. He emigrated to Britain in 1939,[2] and was naturalised as a British citizen in 1947.


Sternberg worked in the scrap metal trade.[2] After the war, he founded Sternberg Group of Companies.[3] By 1965, he retired from the scrap metal trade and focused on property investments.[3]


Sternberg worked in promoting dialogue between different faiths. For example, he relocated a Roman Catholic convent at Auschwitz. Moreover, he organised the first papal visit to a synagogue in 1986. Additionally, he negotiated the Vatican's recognition of the state of Israel

Sternberg established The Sir Sigmund Sternberg Charitable Foundation in 1969 and was one of the co-founders of the Three Faiths Forum. He was the founding Chairman of CRU Group. Sternberg was Life President of the Movement for Reform Judaism.[4] He was chairman of the Sternberg Interfaith Gold Medallion.

In 1976, Sternberg was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, and in 1985 he was made a Papal Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great (KCSG) by Pope John Paul II.[2] He was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1998 for his interfaith work worldwide.[5] In November 2005, Sternberg was promoted to the highest rank within the Royal Order of Francis I to the grade of Knight Grand Cross (GCFO), this in recognition of his contributions to furthering the interfaith activities of the British and Irish Delegation.[6] In 2008, he received the FIRST International Award for Responsible Capitalism, lifetime achievement medal.[7]

Personal life and death

Sternberg married Ruth Schiff in 1949.[3] They had a son, Michael Sternberg QC, and a daughter, British artist Frances Aviva Blane. They divorced in the 1960s, and he later married Hazel Sternberg, who died in 2014.[2] He died on 18 October 2016.[2]


  1. Association Members – official website of the Association of Papal Orders in Great Britain of Pius IX, Saint Gregory and Saint Sylvester
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Sugarman, Daniel (October 19, 2016). "Sir Sigmund Sternberg dead at 95". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Klein, Emma (October 20, 2016). "Obituary: Sir Sigmund Sternberg". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
  4. Who's who: Sir Sigmund Sternberg, President – website of Movement for Reform Judaism
  5. Previous price winners – website of the Templeton Prize
  6. Interfaith leader Sir Sigmund Sternberg promoted to the highest rank within the Royal Order of Francis I – official website of the Grand Magistral Delegation for Inter-Religious Relations
  7. 2008 Award – official website of FIRST Magazine
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