Benakis who, after studying in England emigrated to Alexandria, Egypt where he worked for the Greek cotton industrialist Horemi and in whose family he married. There, he had six children. Among them were the writer Penelope Delta and art collector Antonis Benakis. He accumulated a considerable fortune. In his political career he was a Venizelist, as a close friend of Eleftherios Venizelos himself, elected to the Hellenic Parliament and served as Minister of Agriculture and Industry. He was elected mayor of the city of Athens in 1914.
Among other benefactions he contributed to the settlement of refugees in the aftermath of the Greco-Turkish war in Asia Minor. He has donated to the Red Cross Nurses' School and the Athens College. He placed his fortune at the disposal of numerous charitable foundations after his death and his funeral was carried at Greek public expense.
The Benaki Phytopathological Institute was one such institution founded through his legacy.
- "Antonis Benakis, The Founder". Benaki Museum. Retrieved 2009-05-25.. The Benaki museum was founded by Antonis Benakis and hosts some information about his father Emmanuel Benakis
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