Condé Nast (businessman)

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Condé Nast
BornMarch 26, 1873
DiedSeptember 19, 1942 (aged 69)
Alma materGeorgetown University

Condé Montrose Nast (March 26, 1873 – September 19, 1942) was an American publisher, entrepreneur and business magnate. He founded Condé Nast, a mass media company, now a subsidiary of Advance Publications, who published and maintained brands such as Vanity Fair, Vogue, and The New Yorker.

Early life[edit]

Named after his uncle, Condé Montrose Nast was born in New York City to a family of Midwestern origin. His father, William F. Nast—son of the German-born Methodist leader William Nast—was an inventor who had been U.S. attaché in Berlin. His mother, the former Esther A. Benoist, was a daughter of pioneering St. Louis banker Louis Auguste Benoist, and a descendant of a prominent French family that emigrated to Canada, then to Missouri. He had three siblings.

Nast's aunt financed his studies at Georgetown University, from which he graduated in 1894. During his studies, he was the first president of Georgetown's early student government, The Yard, and he was a member of Georgetown's debating organization, the Philodemic Society.[1] He stayed on an extra year to receive a master's degree from Georgetown in 1895.[2] He went on to earn a law degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1897.


Nast did not take well to law, and upon graduation he got a job working for a former Georgetown classmate, Robert Collier, as advertising manager for Collier's Weekly. Over the course of a decade he increased the advertising revenue by hundred-fold. He published books and Lippincott's Monthly Magazine with Robert M. McBride. After leaving Collier's, Nast bought Vogue, then a small New York society magazine, transforming it into one of America's premier fashion magazines.

He then turned Vanity Fair into a sophisticated general interest publication, with the help of his friend Frank Crowninshield, who was editor and a major influence for more than twenty years. It published many new and high quality writers, as well as displaying reproductions of modern art.

Nast eventually owned a stable of magazines that included House & Garden, British, French, and Argentine editions of Vogue, Le Jardin des Modes, and Glamour – the last magazine added to the group while he was alive. While other publishers simply focused on increasing the number of magazines in circulation, Nast targeted groups of readers by income level or common interest. Among his staff were Edna Woolman Chase, who served as the editor-in-chief of Vogue, as well as Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley.

Personal life[edit]

Nast's grave in Gate of Heaven Cemetery

Nast was married twice. His first wife was Clarisse Coudert, a Coudert Brothers law-firm heiress who became a set and costume designer. They married in 1902, separated in 1919, and divorced in 1925. They had two children.[3]

His second wife was Leslie Foster, granddaughter of short-time Governor of Wyoming Territory George W. Baxter. They married in 1928 when she was 20 and he was 55, and divorced around 1932. They had one child.[4]

Between 1932 and 1936, Nast's companion was Vanity Fair writer Helen Brown Norden.[5][6]

He was nearly ruined by the Great Depression and spent his last years struggling to regain his early prosperity. Condé Nast died on September 19, 1942, and is interred at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York. His grave is in Section 25 of the cemetery, near Babe Ruth and Billy Martin.[7][8]


  1. ^ "Notable Alumni". Philodemic Society. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
  2. ^ "Yard Fades Into Georgetown History" (PDF). The Hoya. May 1, 1969.
  3. ^ "Mrs. Condé Nast Sues for Divorce in Paris". New York Times. May 30, 1925.
  4. ^ "Miss Nast Fiancée of Baron St. Just". New York Times. January 24, 1949.
  5. ^ O'Higgins, Patrick (June 30, 1975). "Helen Lawrenson's Two Lives: Beer and Champagne, Kiss and Tell". The People.
  6. ^ Johnston, Laurie (April 8, 1982). "Helen Lawrenson, 74, wrote about notable affairs". New York Times.
  7. ^ "Husband and Wife Reunited". New York Times. October 14, 1890.
  8. ^ "Condé Nast Dead; Publisher was 68". New York Times. September 20, 1942.


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