Robert Agostinelli

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Robert F. Agostinelli
Robert Agostinelli Forbes.jpg
Robert Agostinelli at the Rhône Annual Meeting (2011).
Born (1953-05-21) May 21, 1953 (age 61)
Rochester, New York, U.S.
Nationality  USA
Alma mater St. John Fisher College (B.A)
Columbia University (M.B.A)
Known for
Net worth IncreaseUS$1.0 billion (Forbes)[1]
Religion Roman Catholic
Children 4

Robert Frank Agostinelli (born May 21, 1953) is an Italian American self made billionaire[2] financier who is the chairman and co-founder of private equity firm Rhône Group. Forbes estimates Agostinelli's net worth to be $1.0 billion,[1] ranking him as the 416th richest American. Agostinelli was ranked #124 amongst the richest people in the United Kingdom by the Sunday Times Rich List in 2012[3][4] and 2014 with a net worth of £670 million.[5][6][7][8]

Early life and education[edit]

Agostinelli was born to Italian immigrant parents outside of Rochester, New York, and attended the Aquinas Institute. He obtained his BA from St. John Fisher College in 1976 and then attended Columbia University where he received his MBA, graduated with highest honours in 1981 and sits on the Alumni Board,[9] He returns regularly to give speeches.[10] Agostinelli is a certified public accountant.[11]


Agostinelli began his career in financial services at the investment bank Jacob Rothschild from 1981 to 1982 and then joined Goldman Sachs and became a senior partner where he worked for five years and founded the firm's international mergers and acquisitions business in London and then while at Lazard Freres he was involved in a number of the largest transactions in European takeover history.[12] In 1995 Agostinelli and Steven Langman started their own firm, the Rhône Group.[13]

Politics and philanthropy[edit]

Agostinelli is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a leading supporter of Zionist and neoconservative causes.[14] He is one of the Founding Members of the Friends of Israel Initiative.[15] He is former Vice-Chairman of the Council for the United States and Italy (CONSIUSA), a member of the Investment Committee of Corporate World Opportunities of BSI Group/Generali Group, and a director and advisor to a number of European and U.S. philanthropic and civic institutions. In 2008 Agostinelli provided substantial funding to the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Rudy Giuliani.[16]

Agostinelli is a friend of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy[17] and former Spanish Prime Minister José Aznar.[18] In 2007 President Sarkozy admitted to Le Monde that Agostinelli, his wife and another family had paid the $60,000 per week fee on a luxury villa for him and his family[19] during his 2006 holiday to the United States.[20] Agostinelli has often been seen jogging with Sarkozy.[21][22]

He is a senior member of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation led by the American Patriots Campaign Cabinet,[23] and a senior board director on the American Italian Cancer Foundation.[24] Agostinelli is on the board of directors of the National Review Institute[25] and the American Veterans Center[26] Agostinelli is known for writing articles in the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times[27] on various political, economic and social issues. Agostinelli was listed in 1997 as a member of the Bilderberg Group.[28][29]

Robert Agostinelli giving a speech in 2011.

In August 2011 Agostinelli gave a speech in the Mahan Reading room at the U.S. Naval War College, where he discussed the potential implications that policy decisions made in response to the 2008 financial crisis could have on U.S. national security[30] Arguing against government decisions to pick winners and losers, he predicted that failure to allow companies to go bankrupt could have pernicious effects on long-term U.S. economic growth, which could lead to unprecedented intrusions into the freedom of American citizens.[31] Agostinelli also warned that deficit spending is giving China increased influence over American affairs, with possible implications for national security.[32] In 2014 Agostinelli donated $100,000 to his close friend and associate John R. Bolton's PAC.[33] He is also a member of the Reagan Ranch Board of Governors.[34]

Friends of Israel Initiative[edit]

A delegation of the Friends of Israel Initiative, which included Agostinelli, met with President Shimon Peres at Beit HaNassi in Jerusalem in July 2011. The delegation included former Spanish Prime Minister José Aznar, former US Ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lord David Trimble. The president held a working meeting with the group[35] and presented an overview of the situation in Israel and the region at large.[36] Agostinelli stated: "Israel is a fundamentally important part of the Western world. It is a democracy under fire, and we must be resolute in defense of its legitimacy."[37]

The Last Tycoons[edit]

In William D. Cohan's book The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Frères & Co., Agostinelli is described as "suave, sophisticated, energetic international financier with extravagant tastes and slicked-back jet-black hair, who pretended to speak Italian but could not."[38] Cohan mentions how Agostinelli played a pivotal role in building Lazard, but for the most part Agostinelli is critiqued.[39] In Chapter 14, entitled "It's A White Man's World", Agostinelli is further portrayed as "flamboyant Agostinelli, who had taken to having a gourmet chef prepare his meals for his overseas first-class flights and having Frette sheets FedExed to his hotel rooms in advance of his arrival. - His American Express bills were said to be on the order of $200,000 a month."[40]

John Washington[edit]

In July 2006, one of Agostinelli’s Rhone Group associates, Colin Hall, was in Les Caves du Roy night club in Saint-Tropez,[41] France when he was attacked by a man named John Washington.[38] The associate was left in a coma but awoke one week later,[42] while a nationwide manhunt was underway for Washington. In a press release,[43] Washington’s lawyer stated that he was being prosecuted unfairly because of direct pressure applied by Agostinelli due to his close relationship to Nicolas Sarkozy.[44] An international arrest warrant was issued when Washington was tracked down, and he was extradited back to France from the U.S. and sentenced to five years in prison and to pay $50,000 fine.[45] In a phone message Washington's lawyer played in court, Agostinelli says: "John, I want you to remember my name because you are going to remember it all your life!... the hunting dogs are after you... they will transform your life into a puff of smoke!"[46][47][48]

Personal life[edit]

Agostinelli has four children and collects wine and art.[49] Agostinelli counts Nicolas Sarkozy, George W. Bush,[50][51] Jeb Bush and José María Aznar[52] as close friends. While based between New York City and Palm Beach, he maintains additional homes in London and Paris, all of which are interior designed by Jacques Grange.[53]

In 2012 it was rumoured that he would be announcing his candidacy to run for Governor of Florida through the support of the Bush Family.[54] Subsequently during the News International phone hacking scandal it was widely reported that Agostinelli had been directly targeted and spied on by a private investigator working for Rupert Murdoch's newspapers.[55][56][57] In early 2014 he sued a former fiancee at the U.S Supreme Court over a £400,000 engagement ring.[58][59] Prior to that relationship he was briefly married to Rosalie van Breemen.[60][61][62]

Associated publications[edit]

  • Bowing to Beijing, by Brett M. Decker and William C. Triplett II. (2011)[63]

See also[edit]


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  11. ^ "Magnesita". Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
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  14. ^ "Membership Roster - Council on Foreign Relations". 2009-12-05. Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  15. ^ Name *. "Friends of Israel Initiative: The neoconservatives’ eastern front « P U L S E". Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  16. ^ "Robert Agostinelli Campaign Contributions and Donations - Huffington Post". 2010-09-22. Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  17. ^ Mirkinson, Jack (2012-05-25). "Murdoch Private Eye Targeted US Hedge Fund Boss". Huffington Post. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
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  20. ^ "606 - - A64893522 - Takeover.. more info". BBC. 2010-03-14. Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  21. ^ "In pictures: Leaders' fitness". BBC News. 2008-08-04. 
  22. ^ "In France, "le jogging" is a right-wing activity | FP Passport". 2007-07-09. Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  23. ^ "Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation". Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  24. ^ "Boards and Staff | American Italian Cancer Foundation". Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
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  32. ^ "Financier discusses implications of US Fiscal Situation". Naval War College Foundation. Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
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  35. ^ Piper, Michael Collins (August 2, 2010). "Powerful New Lobby Group Set In Motion". American Free Press. Retrieved September 30, 2013. 
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  39. ^ Lowenstein, Roger. "The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Freres & Co.: William Cohan: Books". Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
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  41. ^ Day, Elizabeth (2006-07-30). "A binge too far". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
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  44. ^ "Beaned banker case twist". New York Post. 2009-12-29. 
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  48. ^ "Student 'cannot remember assault'". BBC News. 2006-07-29. 
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