Dorrit Moussaieff

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Dorrit Moussaieff
Dorrit Moussaieff (cropped).jpg
Moussaieff in 2012
First Lady of Iceland
In office
14 May 2003 – 1 August 2016
President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
Preceded by Guðrún Katrín Þorbergsdóttir
Succeeded by Eliza Reid
Personal details
Born (1950-01-12) 12 January 1950 (age 66)
Jerusalem, Israel
Spouse(s) Neil Zarach (divorced)
Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson (m.2003–present)
Religion Judaism

Dorrit Moussaieff (Hebrew: דורית מוסאיוף, born 12 January 1950) is a jewellery designer, editor, and businesswoman who was the First Lady of Iceland 2003-2016. She married President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson on his 60th birthday in 2003 and then became first lady after being engaged to him since 2000. Born in Israel, she was raised in Great Britain from the age of 13.


Dorrit Moussaieff was born in Jerusalem. Her father, Shlomo Moussaieff, was from a wealthy Bukharian Jewish family from Bukhara, Uzbekistan, part of a long dynasty of jewellers. Dorrit is the great granddaughter of Rabbi Shlomo Moussaieff. Ancestors of hers are said to have woven the robe of Genghis Khan.[1] Her great grandmother, Esther Gaonoff, was a descendant of Yosef Maimon. Her mother, Aliza is an Austrian Jew of Ashkenazi heritage, but Dorrit identifies more with the Bukharian culture and was raised by her father's large family.[citation needed]

Moussaieff was born and raised in the Bukharan Quarter of Jerusalem. At thirteen, she moved with her family to London. She suffered from dyslexia and was home-schooled. In addition to English and Hebrew, she also speaks German, French, and Icelandic.[1][2]

Her first marriage to Neil Zarach, a designer, ended in divorce. In 2003, she married the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, on his birthday, May 14, following an engagement of three years.[3]

Moussaieff describes herself as "religious in the soul,"[1] and continues to observe Jewish rituals, such as lighting Hanukkah candles.[4]

Business and media career[edit]

As a child, Moussaieff spent a lot of time in her family's jewellery store on Hilton Park Lane in London, and went on to become a successful jewellery designer.[1] Other business ventures in which she has been involved are the construction of an office building at Canary Wharf, London and a tourism project in Northern Cyprus.[1] Moussaieff is a contributing editor to the British society magazine Tatler.

First Lady of Iceland[edit]

In 2003, Moussaieff married President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson on his 60th birthday. She has helped present Icelandic culture abroad, promoted Icelandic artists and identified foreign markets for Icelandic products. She is also active in raising money for disabled children.[5]


In May 2006, while visiting Israel, Moussaieff was detained at Ben Gurion International Airport after arguing with security personnel who refused to acknowledge her British passport and told her that she was obliged by Israeli law to enter and exit the country using her Israeli passport. The media related the confrontation as a diplomatic incident.[6] The Israeli Embassy in Norway, which handles diplomatic relations with Iceland, expressed regret over the incident and restated the law that Israeli citizens must carry Israeli passports when in the country.[7]

In May 2016, the Guardian reported that leaked documents from the Panama Papers appeared to show that part of Moussaieff's considerable fortune was held in offshore tax havens. A spokesman for Icelandic President Grímsson said he has never had any knowledge of his wife's financial affairs, which her lawyers said have always been conducted legally.[8]

Awards and honors[edit]

Moussaieff was listed third on the Harper's Magazine List of the Most Connected People in Britain.[1] A local magazine in Reykjavík chose her as one of the best-dressed women in Iceland.[1] Moussaieff was also named Woman of 2006 by the popular Icelandic glossy magazine Nýtt Líf.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Haaretz - Israel News". Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  2. ^ name="Ísland er stórasta land í heimi"
  3. ^ "Dorrit Moussaieff". Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  4. ^ "Shlomomoussaieff". Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  5. ^ "Dorrit Moussaieff". Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  6. ^ "Iceland president's wife delayed at Ben-Gurion Airport". Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  7. ^ "News Archives". Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  8. ^ Bowers, Simon (2 May 2016). "Iceland president's wife linked to offshore tax havens in leaked files". Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  9. ^ "The Reykjavik Grapevine - Your essential guide to life, travel and entertainment in Iceland". Retrieved 15 June 2016. 

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Guðrún Katrín Þorbergsdóttir
First Lady of Iceland
2003 – 2016
Succeeded by
Eliza Reid