David Gottesman

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David Gottesman
Born(1926-04-26)April 26, 1926
New York City, U.S.
DiedSeptember 28, 2022(2022-09-28) (aged 96)
Alma materTrinity College (BA)
Harvard University (MBA)
  • Businessman
  • investor
Known forEarly investor in Berkshire Hathaway
Ruth Levy
(m. 1950)
FamilySamuel Gottesman (uncle)

David Sanford Gottesman (April 26, 1926 – September 28, 2022) was an American businessman and billionaire. He founded First Manhattan Co. (FMC),[1] and was noted for his friendship with Warren Buffett.

Early life and education[edit]

Gottesman was born to a Jewish family in New York City on April 26, 1926.[2][3][4] His father, Benjamin, worked as a banker and investor; his mother, Esther (née Garfunkel), played a key role in procuring the Dead Sea Scrolls for Israel.[4][5][6][7] He had two siblings, Milton and Alice.[5] He was also a nephew of American pulp-paper merchant, financier, and philanthropist Samuel Gottesman.[5][8] The family relocated to New Rochelle, New York, during Gottesman's childhood. He joined the US Army after high school and was first sent to Princeton University to study engineering, before being deployed to the South Pacific theater in 1945.[4] Upon his return from military service after an honorable discharge, he obtained a bachelor's degree from Trinity College. He then undertook postgraduate studies at Harvard Business School, graduating with a Master of Business Administration in 1950.[4][6]


After graduating, Gottesman first worked at Hallgarten & Company in mergers and acquisitions for around a decade.[4] In 1963, he was introduced to Warren Buffett at a Wall Street club lunch by a mutual friend, who recognized their identical approach of purchasing value stocks. They soon became good friends, playing golf with each other and having conversations every Sunday night over the phone about which stocks to invest in.[4][9] Over the next two years, Gottesman travelled often to Omaha, Nebraska, where Buffett resided, to meet during the later part of the day and discuss ideas into the early hours of the morning, with Gottesman frequently returning to New York on red-eye flights.[4]

Gottesman later founded the investment advisory firm First Manhattan Co. in 1964.[4][9] He was also an early investor in Berkshire Hathaway. The two firms co-invested in Diversified Retailing Co., which was established by Gottesman, Buffett, and Charlie Munger to purchase private retail companies, beginning with Hochschild Kohn's (whose president was the uncle of Gottesman's wife). The trio soon realized they made a "terrible mistake" with that acquisition and Gottesman oversaw its reselling at only a minor loss.[4] Diversified later merged with Berkshire in 1978.[9] As of March 2021, Gottesman owned 17,202 class A shares and more than two million class B shares in Berkshire Hathaway.[10] This made up a sizable portion of his wealth, with Gottesman later recounting that "[t]here probably has never been a better return on any stock held for 44 years in the history of Wall Street".[4] He estimated that by 2012, they were worth 6,000 times their original value.[4] He joined the Berkshire Hathaway board of directors in 2003.[11]


In 2008, Gottesman donated $25 million to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.[12] This gift was used to form the Ruth L. and David S. Gottesman Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, which operates as a stem cell research center.[13] He and his wife also funded the Train Track Park's bicycle path around Jerusalem.[4][8] The Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth at the American Museum of Natural History is named in their honor.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Gottesman married Ruth (née Levy) in 1950.[4] They met in 1948 before she began her studies at Mount Holyoke College and remained married for 72 years until his death.[4][8] She has a bachelor's from Barnard College, and a master's degree in Developmental Education and an Ed.D. in Human Cognition and Learning in the area of Educational Psychology both from Teachers College, Columbia University.[14][15] Together, they had three children. They lived in Rye, New York.[4] He was an avid swimmer,[16] and was a trustee of the Mount Sinai Medical Center and was Vice Chairman and trustee of the American Museum of Natural History.[12]

Gottesman died at his home in Rye on September 28, 2022, at the age of 96.[4][8][9][17]


  1. ^ Schroeder, Alice (2008), "29 (footnote six)", The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, Random House, ISBN 9780553905496
  2. ^ Who's who in Finance and Industry. August 1975. ISBN 9780837903194.
  3. ^ "BRK.A on CNBC". CNBC. October 18, 2013. Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. Retrieved October 18, 2013. Net worth: $3.0 billion
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Hershey, Robert D.; Traub, Alex (September 29, 2022). "David Gottesman, 96, Wall St. Power and Warren Buffett Partner, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c New York Times: "Paid Notice: Deaths GOTTESMAN, ESTHER" October 5, 1997
  6. ^ a b Forbes Israel: Jewish Billionaires – Profile of David Gottesman April 14, 2013 (in Hebrew)
  7. ^ "The World's Billionaires (2010): #655 David Gottesman". Forbes. March 3, 2010. Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Net worth: $1.5 billion
  8. ^ a b c d Cramer, Philissa (September 30, 2022). "David Gottesman, 96, Wall St. Power and Warren Buffett Partner, Dies". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved October 2, 2022.
  9. ^ a b c d Sandler, Rachel (September 29, 2022). "Billionaire Investor And Friend Of Warren Buffett David Gottesman Dies At 96". Forbes. Retrieved October 2, 2022.
  10. ^ "NOTICE OF ANNUAL MEETING OF SHAREHOLDERS May 1, 2021" (PDF). Berkshire Hathaway. March 15, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2022.
  11. ^ Arnold, Laurence (September 29, 2022). "David Gottesman, a Top Buffett Investor and Friend, Dies at 96". Bloomberg News. Retrieved October 3, 2022.
  12. ^ a b Forbes: The World's Billionaires – David Gottesman January 2018
  13. ^ "About the Institute | Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine", Einstein.yu.edu Retrieved on December 16, 2014.
  14. ^ "Ruth L. Gottesman, Ed.D." Faculty Profile. web.archive.org: Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2022.
  15. ^ Adeniji, Ade (April 19, 2016). "The Gottesmans: A Billionaire Family That Supports Jewish Organizations". Inside Philanthropy. Retrieved October 3, 2022.
  16. ^ "Rye People: David Gottesman". MyRye.com. March 18, 2007. Retrieved October 3, 2022.
  17. ^ Cramer, Philissa (October 1, 2022). "Buffett business partner, scion of Jewish philanthropic dynasty, dies at 96". The Times of Israel. Retrieved October 4, 2022.

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