28 October 1980 |
|Alma mater||Eton College|
|Occupation||Financier and environmentalist|
|Spouse(s)||Kate Emma Rothschild (2003–2013)|
Benjamin James "Ben" Goldsmith (born 28 October 1980) is an English financier and environmentalist. The son of financier Sir James Goldsmith and Lady Annabel Goldsmith he is one of the founders and managers of the sustainability-focused investment firm WHEB Group. He has used his personal wealth to support both philanthropic and political projects in the area of the environment and sustainability.
He had a high profile marriage to Rothschild heiress's Kate Emma Rothschild which ended in 2012. The split gained tabloid headlines in the UK after being dubbed the first "Twitter Divorce" for playing out on social media via posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram."
Goldsmith is a founding partner of WHEB, a leading European sustainability-focused investment firm. WHEB manages approximately €500 million across private equity, quoted equities and renewable energy infrastructure. Goldsmith got an early start in business in his early twenties when, after spending six months working at private client brokerage, Hargreave-Hale, he was backed by his uncle Edward Goldsmith to look for venture capital opportunities in the emerging "cleantech" area. Goldsmith soon joined specialist cleantech consultant, WHEB (which focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency technologies, alternatives to chemicals, and clean industrial processes) and catalysed its transition into a multi asset investment firm.
Ben Goldsmith is described by London's Evening Standard as "the quiet force of the Goldsmith family. A sweeter-looking version of his handsome old brother Zac, Ben-Ben, as he is affectionately known, is believed to be a key figure in looking after the family finances."
Goldsmith's personal investment portfolio is manifold and includes a lucrative sports betting company, Fitzdares . He sometimes works with his brothers Zac Goldsmith and Robin Birley. They also backed the unsuccessful daily sports newspaper 'The Sportsman'. In August 2006, the Goldsmith brothers made a bid for the Clermont Club, the casino above Annabel's, the nightclub named for their mother, but they were thwarted by Malaysian billionaire Quek Leng Chan.
In 2003 Goldsmith co-founded the UK Environmental Funders Network, described as "an informal network of trusts, foundations and individuals that make philanthropic grants on environmental issues. By 2010 the Network claimed responsibility for co-ordinating £75,500,000 across more than 6,000 grants to environmental advocacy initiatives.
Goldsmith is understood to chair the Advisory Board of the JMG Foundation, named for his late father, which supports environmental advocacy campaigns. JMG is not a formally registered charitable foundation, which according to Goldsmith allows them flexibility in their efforts, noting, "this often leads us to support quite spiky work – campaigning and hard-hitting advocacy – which prompts governments or business to move further, and faster, towards a truly sustainable course." Initiatives supported by Goldsmith's EMG foundation include Jeffrey M. Smith's global advocacy campaign in opposition to genetically modified foods. Goldsmith also serves as an adviser to the UK-based Ecology Trust established by his brother.
In 2004, Goldsmith gave £20,000.00 to the UK Green Party and again prior to the 2010 General Election in which Caroline Lucas became Britain's first elected Green Member of Parliament. In subsequent years Goldsmith also contributed generously to the UK Conservative Party as well as individual candidates like Tory MP Michael Gove and the so-called "Notting Hill set of Conservative modernisers".
In 2013 Goldsmith helped to create the Conservative Environment Network (CEN), whose Steering Committee he chairs. The CEN seeks to bring together those from politics, business, the media, policy who believe that free markets and conservatism, broadly defined, can offer solutions to the greatest challenge of our time, namely protecting and restoring the natural world on which everything we do ultimately depends.
Once considered to be anti-bloodsports, he has since spoken out against the ban on fox hunting in the UK, stating that the "ban on fox hunting has nothing to do with animal welfare. If it was, then antis would be campaigning as heavily against factory farming...It's another step in the dismantling of tradition."
Goldsmith was born in London. He is the youngest child of the late billionaire Sir James Goldsmith and his 3rd wife Lady Annabel Vane-Tempest-Stewart. He has an older sister, Jemima, and an older brother, Zac Goldsmith. His father famously conducted concurrent liaisons with his second wife, Ben's mother and his mistresses, including Ben's first cousin Lady Cosima Somerset, legally the younger daughter of Annabel's brother, the 9th Marquess of Londonderry. In 1981, his father left Ben's family in England and went to live in New York with his mistress.
Goldsmith has several half-siblings: Isabel Goldsmith from his father's first marriage, Alix and Manes from his father's second marriage and by his father's mistress Laure Boulay de La Meurthe, he has two younger half-siblings, Jethro and Charlotte. From his mother's first marriage to nightclub magnate Mark Birley he has two brothers Rupert (now deceased) and Robin Birley and a sister India Jane Birley.
Marriage and family
On 20 September 2003, at St. Mary's Church in Bury St. Edmunds, he married heiress Kate Emma Rothschild (b. 1982), daughter of the late Amschel Rothschild and his wife, Anita Patience Guinness, of the Guinness Brewery family. Their wedding was attended by 600 guests, with many blue-blooded and Old Etonian friends, among them Lord Frederick Windsor and Alexander Spencer Churchill.
The couple have three children: Iris Annabel (b. 2004), Frank James Amschel (b. 2005) and Isaac Benjamin Victor (b. 2008). On 2 June 2012 it was revealed that Kate, a music producer, had been having an extramarital affair with rapper Jay Electronica for a year. Goldsmith, who was arrested for slapping his wife over the matter, said that he would be filing for divorce. The Goldsmith's 2012 divorce proceedings made headlines in tabloid media as the first "Twitter Divorce" for playing out on social media via posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Experts reported that under the terms of the divorce settlement Rothschild would not be entitled to any of her ex-husband's £300m fortune.
- Nicholl, Katie (2 June 2012). "Rothschild heiress's marriage to Goldsmith scion is over... after she falls for a rapper called Jay Electronica". London: Daily Mail.
- "WHEB Partners – Ben Goldsmith". Retrieved 23 August 2013.
- "The Goldsmith supremacy: London's most compelling dynasty"
- "Environmental Founders Network".
- Where the green grants went, by Jon Cracknell, EFN Report, January 2012.
- Philanthropy in a climate of change, by Ben Goldsmith, Philanthropy U.K. Magazine, Winter 2009.
- Book Review: Genetic Roulette, by Jeffrey Smith, by Phil Bereano, Gene Watch Magazine, 2008.
- Profile: Ben Goldsmith, by Chris Blackhurst, This is Money (UK), 14 January 2009.
- Wheeler, Brian (11 January 2006). "Interview: Zac Goldsmith". BBC News.
- thePeerage.com – Person Page 5917
- Nicholl, Katie (2 June 2012). "Rothschild heiress's marriage to Goldsmith scion is over... after she falls for a rapper called Jay Electronica". Daily Mail (London).
- Rothschild heiress finally realises playing out her marriage split on Twitter is a bad idea and calls a truce with Goldsmith husband, UK Daily Mail, 7 June 2012.