Lord Jacob Rothschild: Financier dies aged 87

The British peer started his career in his family bank in 1963

Holly Williams,Athena Stavrou
Monday 26 February 2024 20:46 GMT
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Lord Jacob Rothschild: Financier dies aged 87

Financier, philanthropist and head of the renowned Rothschild empire, Lord Jacob Rothschild has died aged 87.

His family confirmed his death in a statement on Monday and described the patriarch – who has held a number of senior financial and philanthropic roles – as a “towering presence”.

The Rothschilds have an estimated fortune of around £825m, according to last year’s Sunday Times Rich List, and give away a reported £66m to Jewish causes, education and art each year.

Financier Lord Jacob Rothschild has died aged 87
Financier Lord Jacob Rothschild has died aged 87 (York Liberman/PA Wire)

The British peer started his career in the family bank, NM Rothschild & Sons, in 1963, before breaking away from the family business in 1980 and going on to co-found J Rothschild Assurance Group, now known as St James’s Place, in 1991.

Lord Rothschild was married for more than 50 years to Serena, who died in 2019, and leaves behind four children – Hannah, Beth, Emily and Nat – and many grandchildren. The Rothschild Foundation confirmed Lord Rothschild’s daughter Hannah would succeed him as chair of the charity.

In a statement announcing his death, his family said: “Our father Jacob was a towering presence in many people’s lives, a superbly accomplished financier, a champion of the arts and culture, a devoted public servant, a passionate supporter of charitable causes in Israel and Jewish culture, a keen environmentalist and much-loved friend, father and grandfather.

“He will be buried in accordance with Jewish custom in a small family ceremony and there will be a memorial at a later date to celebrate his life.”

The Rothschild Foundation confirmed Lord Rothschild’s daughter Hannah would succeed him as chair of the charity
The Rothschild Foundation confirmed Lord Rothschild’s daughter Hannah would succeed him as chair of the charity (Shutterstock)

Born in Berkshire, Lord Rothschild was educated at Eton College and then went on to study history at Christ Church, Oxford.

He was chairman of RIT Capital Partners – one of the largest investment trusts quoted on the London Stock Exchange – until 2019.

He also held roles including deputy chairman at BSkyB Television, director of RHJ International, now known as BHF Kleinwort Benson Group, and was a member of the council for the Duchy of Cornwall for then-Prince of Wales, Charles.

Lord Rothschild was a renowned patron to the arts
Lord Rothschild was a renowned patron to the arts (PA)

He also founded Windmill Hill Asset Management to manage the family’s philanthropic portfolio.

In the cultural sector, he was chairman of trustees at the National Gallery and chairman of the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

A renowned patron of the arts, he also sat for numerous portraits, including by Lucian Freud and David Hockney, and was chairman of the trustees for the Rothschild Foundation charity.

One of his biggest philanthropic commitments was to Waddesdon Manor and the Waddesdon estate in Buckinghamshire, having taken over its management on behalf of the National Trust from his cousin, Dorothy de Rothschild, upon her death in 1988.

One of his biggest philanthropic commitments was to Waddesdon Manor and the Waddesdon estate in Buckinghamshire, having taken over the management on behalf of the National Trust from his cousin Dorothy de Rothschild in 1988
One of his biggest philanthropic commitments was to Waddesdon Manor and the Waddesdon estate in Buckinghamshire, having taken over the management on behalf of the National Trust from his cousin Dorothy de Rothschild in 1988 (Shutterstock)

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, the Rothschild Foundation and Waddesdon Manor said they were “deeply saddened to announce the death of Lord Rothschild, businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist and cultural leader”.

“He will be greatly missed by his family, his colleagues and his many friends,” they added.

The Rothschild Foundation said Lord Rothschild was an “extraordinary person” who “made a profound difference to many areas of British life”.

It added: “He was committed to helping communities, the environment, education and above all, the arts.

“Jacob Rothschild was an extraordinary person, and his loss will be felt by many. The family is committed to continuing his legacy and the foundation which he loved and endowed.”

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