Leonardo Farkas

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Leonardo Farkas
Leonardo Farkas in 2011.
Born (1967-03-20) March 20, 1967 (age 47)

Leonardo Julio Farkas Klein (born March 20, 1967) is a Chilean businessman and philanthropist.

Early years[edit]

Farkas's parents were Jews of Hungarian descent who emigrated from Transylvania to South America in 1939.[1]

Farkas studied commercial engineering at the University of Santiago, Chile. In the 1980s, he emigrated to the United States and made a living working in show business as a piano player while traveling throughout the country. He also worked in several Caribbean cruising companies until the death of his father. Farkas then returned to Chile to manage the family business. He has stakes in several industries, the mining sector being the most important.[2]

Consideration of presidential candidacy[edit]

In October 2008 Farkas announced that he was considering being an independent candidate for the presidential election of 2009.[3] Initially, he declined to comment on the issue.[4][relevant? ] However, on December 5, he announced he would not be running.[5]


Farkas is widely known in Chile by his appearances in the Chilean telethon(Teleton), a fundraising campaign for handicapped children. Farkas donated hundreds of millions of pesos, and in 2008, donated 1000 millions pesos (US$2 million approx.), becoming the first individual to donate such amount of money to this campaign (matched hours later by José Luis Nazar during the same event).[6]

Farkas has been very critical of the Chilean upper class, stating that “they’re usually very stingy and elitist” and don’t do enough to mitigate Chile’s social problems. He has also said that if elected president “all Chileans would have their own house”.[7] This rhetoric of appealing to the masses of poor people has gained him substantial support among that social group and some harsh criticism from his business peers and local politicians, often labeling him as a “populist” in search of some spotlight.[7]

During the rescue operation in Copiapó, Chile of the trapped miners, Farkas donated a US$10,000 check for each of the 33 rescued men. Farkas reportedly gave the checks in the miners' names to each of the families and set up a separate fund to collect donations, The Associated Press reported.[8]

On July 1, Farkas was given an award by the Viña del Mar Mayor for his contributions to the city.[citation needed]

Farkas is also known as a patron of many other charities, including the March of the Living an annual educational program which brings students from all over the world to Poland, to study the history of the Holocaust and examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hate. [9]


  1. ^ Barrionuevo, Alexei. "Mine Owner's Flair Rankles Chilean Elite". The New York Times. November 19, 2010. Accessed on 02/17/11 at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/20/world/americas/20chile.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&src=ISMR_AP_LO_MST_FB.
  2. ^ Barrionuevo, Alexei (2010-11-19). "Farkas's Flair Rankles Chilean Elite - The Saturday Profile". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ "The Valparaiso Times - Valparaiso and Vi�a del Mar News - Chile News - CHILE’S LONGSHOT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE GREETED AS HERO". Valparaisotimes.cl. 2008-11-14. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ "Leonardo Farkas: No seré candidato a la presidencia". Emol.com. 2010-10-29. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  6. ^ "Teletón finalmente cumple la meta en el Nacional (minuto a minuto)". Emol.com. 2008-11-29. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  7. ^ a b "El "fenómeno Farkas" seduce a Chile · ELPAÍS.com". Elpais.com. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  8. ^ Showers of offers for Chile miners, MSNBC.com
  9. ^ "March of the Living expresses its gratitude to Leonardo Farkas of Santiago, Chile".