Bill Koch (businessman)

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William Ingraham "Bill" Koch (/ˈkk/; born May 3, 1940) is an American businessman, sailor, and collector. His boat was the winner of the America's Cup in 1992. Forbes estimated William Koch's net worth was $4.0 billion in March 2012 from oil and other investments.[1]

Early life[edit]

William Ingraham Koch is the son of Mary (née Robinson) and Fred Chase Koch, founder of Koch Industries, a business empire based on oil refining that became the second largest privately owned company in America. His paternal grandfather, Harry Koch, was a Dutch immigrant who founded the Quanah Tribune-Chief newspaper and was a founding shareholder of Quanah, Acme and Pacific Railway. Bill attended Culver Academies in Culver, Indiana,[2] Koch graduated with a bachelors of science, master's, and doctoral degree in chemical engineering all from MIT.[3]

Business career[edit]

Bill worked in his family's company. He and his eldest brother Frederick R. Koch had inherited Koch Industries stock. In 1983 the stock netted them $800 million in a sale to their brothers, Charles and David.[4] Until 2001 Bill and Fred spent nearly 15 years in consecutive lawsuits with their brothers, whom they accused of having cheated them.

Legal disputes against Charles and David lasted some two decades. Bill and his eldest brother, Frederick, sided with J. Howard Marshall III, J. Howard Marshall II's eldest son, against Charles and David at one point, in order to take over the company. In 2001, Bill Koch reached a settlement in a case where he had charged the company was taking oil from federal and Indian land. This settlement ended all litigation between the brothers.[5] CBS News reported that Koch Industries settled for $25 million, and Bill received one-third of the settlement for bringing the suit.[6]

After leaving Koch Industries, he became the founder and president of the Oxbow Group, an energy development holding company based in West Palm Beach, Florida.[7] In 2011, Oxbow donated $750,000 to Restore Our Future, Inc., the "superpac" supporting Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.[8] Koch was also an investor in the ill-fated Kendall Square Research.

Koch also co-chairs the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a group formed to fight the Cape Wind project to build an offshore wind farm of 130 turbines. He became involved due to his ownership of a home in Osterville, Massachusetts. In 2005, Koch contributed $500,000 in donations to the alliance directly and more than $1 million toward lobbyist efforts to defeat the project.[9][10]

America's Cup[edit]

Koch won the America's Cup in 1992 with the yacht America³, defeating an Italian team four races to one. Its overall record including trials was 28-10. Koch reportedly spent around $65 million on his effort and though an amateur, sailed on the crew himself, assisted by veteran sailors like Buddy Melges.[11]

In 1995, he financed another team to compete for the cup. This time the crew consisted entirely of women except for tactician David Dellenbaugh, on a yacht named Mighty Mary. However, the boat lost to Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes in the trials.[12]

Koch is an avid supporter of the Sea Scout program of the Boy Scouts of America, biannually hosting the William I. Koch International Sea Scout Cup.

Koch was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 1993.

Koch's collections[edit]

Koch is an avid collector of art and wine, and especially of maritime memorabilia. He has filed several high-profile suits against sellers of counterfeit wines, most notably a suit against Hardy Rodenstock for the sale of wine purported to have been owned by Thomas Jefferson.[13] Koch also sued Rudy Kurniawan as well as the auction house Acker, Merrall & Condit through whom Koch purchased Kurniawan's wine. Koch filed the suit against Kurniawan in 2009,[14] and was reported to have a reached a settlement for $3 million in July, 2014.[15][16]

Koch's collection of maritime memorabilia includes model ships, antique nautical instruments, and paintings of ships and seascapes.[7] A 2005 show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston featured his various collections, including both the America³ and the ship it defeated, Il Moro di Venezia, displayed on the front lawn. (Koch had bought Il Moro after the competition.) The show was also criticized, however, for glamorizing Koch at the expense of the museum's educational function. Koch had helped finance the show, including paying the cost to move the boats from Rhode Island.[17] He previously owned the former French Class America F1 - IACC F1 renamed later USA-2.

The boats were in Rhode Island because Koch had placed them with a small maritime museum there. Despite the considerable expense of building them, he said "they have absolutely no value" once their racing life is over.[18] Koch, a native of Wichita, Kansas, donated the ship he used in qualifying for the America's Cup races, The Jayhawk, to the Wichita Boathouse. He also supplied money for the city to use in repairing the yacht.[19]

On June 26, 2011, he purchased a 130-year-old photo of the legendary outlaw Billy the Kid for the amount of $2.1 million at a Denver auction. It is currently the only authenticated photo of the outlaw known to exist.[20]

At his Colorado ranch, Koch has a collection of military vehicles, including a M42 Duster antiaircraft gun.[21]


Koch donated $1.5 million to Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.[22] Its goal is to prevent the construction of Cape Wind, a wind power project located in Nantucket Sound, near Koch's Cape Cod house.

Koch also gave $2 million to Restore Our Future, a PAC created to support 2012 Republican Party Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Koch's personal life has also received public attention. In 1994 Koch married Joan Granlund, with whom he had a son, Wyatt. In 1995, he filed a lawsuit against his former lover, Catherine de Castelbajac, to evict her from his $2.5 million condominium at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston. He said he had allowed her to move in the previous year so she could attend Simmons College, as he seldom used the apartment. When he tried to end the relationship, de Castelbajac refused to move out and claimed he had broken his promises to her. A jury ruled in Koch's favor after a trial noted for its disclosure of torrid letters and faxes between the two.[24]

A complaint by Koch's subsequent wife, Angela, led to his arrest in 2000 based on allegations of domestic violence.[4] The charge was dropped after Angela refused to testify, and the couple later divorced.[25] Koch's third marriage in 2005 was to Bridget Rooney, granddaughter of Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney. By this time, Koch had fully reconciled with his brother, David, who served as best man.[26]

He owns the Elk Mountain Lodge in Aspen which he has recently put back on the market with a price tag of $100 million.[27] This makes it one of the most expensive houses in the entire country.


  1. ^ "William Koch profile". Forbes. 
  2. ^ "SPORTS PEOPLE: YACHT RACING; Don't Tell Dennis Conner", The New York Times, July 15, 1992. Accessed February 14, 2008. "The America's Cup defender, BILL KOCH, capsized a sailboat on Lake Maxinkuckee in Culver, Ind., last weekend while racing students at Culver Academy, where he graduated in the 1950's."
  3. ^ "Management Team". Oxbow Corporation. Retrieved 16 October 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Koch's wife granted order of restraint". Pittsburg (KS) Morning Sun, July 21, 2000.
  5. ^ "Judge Clears Koch Brothers' Settlement Pact". Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2001.
  6. ^ "Blood and Oil: An Environmental Negligence". 60 Minutes, November 27, 2000. CBS News.
  7. ^ a b Schwan, Gary. "A taste of what floats collector Koch's boat". Palm Beach Post, March 13, 2006.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Dennehy, Kevin and David Schoetz. "State could decide fate of wind farm". Cape Cod Times, April 1, 2006.
  10. ^ Brooks, Walter. "Osterville billionaire oil man behind stealth move to stop the wind farm". Cape Cod Today, March 16, 2006.
  11. ^ Roberts, Rich. "America 3 Win No Bargain Sail Yachting: But after beating Il Moro, 4-1, Koch says the $65 million he spent to win the America's Cup is worth it." Los Angeles Times, May 17, 1992.
  12. ^ Phillips, Angus. "Mighty Mary's Fate Is Left on the Wind". Washington Post, April 28, 1995.
  13. ^ Keefe, Patrick Radden. "The Jefferson Bottles, How could one collector find so much rare fine wine?". The New Yorker, September 3, 2007.
  14. ^ IRELL & MANELLA LLP: Layn R. Phillips, Bruce A. Wessel, Melissa R. McCormick. "Koch v. Kurniawan: COMPLAINT FOR FRAUD, NEGLIGENT MISREPRESENTATION, AND VIOLATION OF CALIFORNIA UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW" (PDF). Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  15. ^ "Former wine collector to forfeit $20 million for counterfeiting". Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  16. ^ "Billionaire Koch settles suit over fake wine"
  17. ^ Edgers, Geoff. "Furor ahoy: MFA exhibit of Koch's collections stirs questions over choices, motives". Boston Globe, August 30, 2005.
  18. ^ Walker, Sam. "On Sports: Sailing's Edsels". Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2003.
  19. ^ Voorhis, Dan. "Jayhawk needs $150,000 overhaul". Wichita Eagle, March 18, 2006.
  20. ^ "Billy the Kid photograph fetches $2.3 million at auction". CNN. June 26, 2011. 
  21. ^ 'Tiananmen Sid' faces down tank in Paonia's Fourth of July parade by Nancy Lofholm, Denver Post, 6 July 2012
  22. ^ Doyle, Tim (2006-09-21). "Koch's New Fight". Fortune 
  23. ^ Bykowicz, Julie (July 9, 2012). "Romney’s `Koch Problem:’ $3 Million". Bloomberg News. Retrieved July 9, 2012. 
  24. ^ Mehren, Elizabeth. "A Steamy Romance Gets Frosty in Court". Los Angeles Times, November 28, 1995.
  25. ^ "Assault charge against Koch dropped". USA Today, January 14, 2001.
  26. ^ Lambiet, Jose. "28-story mast to be visible for miles". Palm Beach Post, February 20, 2005.
  27. ^ Barber, Megan. "Billionaire Bill Koch Relists Aspen's Priciest House at $100M". Curbed Ski, March 20, 2015. Accessed 13 May 2015

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