Lemelson in 2013
|Ordination||July 23, 2011|
by Metropolitan Elpidophoros the Abbot of the Theological School at Halki
|Born||June 29, 1976|
|Occupation||Greek Orthodox priest, social commentator, and hedge fund manager|
|Education||Seattle University (BA) Hellenic College Holy Cross (MDiv)|
Between 1999 and 2010, he ran the internet company Amvona. After closing the business in 2010, he reformed the company website into a social commentary page. Following the change, his commentary in regard to the securitization of mortgage-backed securities was widely cited.
In 2011, Lemelson was ordained a Greek Orthodox priest. He is in favor of reconciliation between the Greek Orthodox and Catholic churches. Lemelson has advocated a philosophy of investment based on Christian ethics, and in 2012, he founded Lemelson Capital Management, which runs The Amvona Fund, a hedge fund. Additionally in 2012, Lemelson founded The Lantern Foundation with its purpose being to support religious, charitable, and educational causes with a focus on those associated with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Early life and education
Gregory Manoli Lemelson was born on June 29, 1976 in Phoenix, Arizona to a Jewish father and Christian mother. Following high school, he attended Seattle University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Religious Studies in 1999. He then attended Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he received a Master's of Divinity in 2003.
While a 17-year old undergraduate at Seattle University, Lemelson met Robert Spitzer, a Jesuit priest and philosopher. In interviews, Lemelson has indicated that the encounter was a significant event in his religious life.[clarification needed]
Lemelson has written about his early business experiences, saying that his earliest recollection was selling candy on the bus ride home from school in the sixth grade. In 1994, while an undergraduate student at Seattle University, he launched a retail photography business, and in 1999 he founded the website Amvona[a] from his dorm room at Hellenic College. The company, which sold photography accessories, grew quickly, generating around $40 million in revenue.
In 2005, based in part on proprietary software the company developed, the site began a transition to a hybrid platform of social networking and ecommerce content. By 2007, Lemelson developed technology to link media creation to relevant products using exif data and aggregating shared images of the site's users as a prototype first known as "Amvona Trails" and later rebranded as the independent website Flekt.
Between 1999 and 2010, Amvona sold more than a million photo accessories to 300,000 customers, and was one of the top ten most visited online photo retail websites. The company also registered several patents, including proprietary software to connect its customers through user profiles, product reviews, exif data and online tracking software. Similar technology was later used by other websites to track user activities. In 2010, Amvona discontinued its e-commerce business. There was no official explanation, however journalist Filipe R. Costa speculated it was due to increased competition from Chinese companies offering cheap photography equipment online, and Lemelson's business philosophy of not taking on massive debt for the possibility of future growth.
Lemelson was ordained as a Greek Orthodox Deacon on July 23, 2011 and, the following day, as a priest by Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Bursa. He was granted the ecclesiastical name Emmanuel and was assigned to the Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America at the Holy Trinity Albanian Orthodox parish in South Boston. In June 2013, he was assigned to the Holy Metropolis of Switzerland, a jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
In November 2014, Lemelson was a member of the Orthodox Church's delegation for a two-day meeting between Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and Pope Francis in Istanbul. He has said that as a young man he fostered a vision that Catholics and Orthodox Christians would soon be reunited, and he has stated that more progress towards reconciliation has been made under these two leaders than had taken place in nearly a millennium, since the East–West Schism.
At a presidential candidate campaign rally for Donald Trump held in Keene, New Hampshire on September 30, 2015, Lemelson offered the invocation and spoke at the rally, condemning the abortion practices of Planned Parenthood. He also gave a personal blessing to Trump.
In October 2016 Lemelson called for the removal of the Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston following a clergy sex-abuse scandal. He said the incident was preventable and there were serious deficiencies in the protocols used for the oversight of clergy.
Hedge fund manager
In September 2012, Lemelson founded Lemelson Capital Management, LLC, the sole sponsor and general partner of The Amvona Fund, L.P. that focuses on deep value and special situations. He is the chief investment officer of the fund.
His activities led the Amvona Fund to be ranked in three months during 2013–14 among the world's top performing hedge funds, and by mid 2015 the company reported a net return of 150 percent since its launch.
In October 2015 The Wall Street Journal published an article about Lemelson that included a claim that Lemelson boasted of his ability to 'crash' stocks, and quoted him as saying "My whole life I always knew things before they happened. I guess it's just a gift from God." Lemelson later published a response to the story, calling it a "directory of fallacies" and outlined what he described as 14 major factual errors and omissions in the article, but did not deny the quote regarding prescience. Dow Jones (the owner of The Wall Street Journal) stated that they stood by their story.
In September 2018, Bloomberg reported that Lemelson was being sued by the SEC for alleged stock manipulation. It is alleged he made $1.3 mil in illegal profits for publishing false information about Ligand Pharmaceuticals, and then shorting the position. Lemelson says the SEC suit has no merit. Lemelson unsuccessfully sued Bloomberg for reporting in March 2016 that the SEC was investigating his trades of Ligand Pharmaceuticals.
Personal life and philanthropy
In December 2012 Lemelson founded The Lantern Foundation, a non-profit foundation focused on supporting religious, charitable and educational causes with a special focus on those associated with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Since its inception, he has served as its president.
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