Ephrussi family

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Palais Ephrussi on Vienna's Ringstraße (Universitätsring), opposite the Votivkirche, 2006
Villa Ephrussi on the French Riviera, 2011

The Ephrussi family (French pronunciation: ​[ɛfʁysi]) is a Ukrainian Jewish banking and oil dynasty. The family's bank and properties were seized by the Nazi authorities after the 1938 "Anschluss", the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany.


The progenitor, Charles Joachim Ephrussi (1792–1864), from Berdichev, made a fortune controlling grain distribution beginning in the free port of Odessa (then Russian Empire, now Ukraine)[1] and later controlled large-scale oil resources across Crimea and the Caucasus. By 1860, the family was the world’s largest exporter of wheat.[1]

Charles Joachim's eldest son, Leonid (d. 1877), founded a bank in Odessa, while his brother Ignaz (1829–1899) moved to the Austrian capital, Vienna, where he established the Ephrussi & Co. banking house in 1856. In 1872, he was elevated to the noble rank of Ritter by Habsburg emperor Franz Joseph I. In 1871, Leonid, together with his younger half-brothers Michel (1845–1914) and Maurice Ephrussi (1849–1916), founded a branch in Paris, followed by subsidiaries in London and Athens.

During the 19th century, the family possessed vast wealth and owned many castles, palaces, and estates in Europe. The family members were known for their connoisseurship, intellectual interests, and their huge collections of art.[2] Leonid's son Charles Ephrussi (1849–1905), a well-known art historian, collector and editor, became a model for the character of Charles Swann in Marcel Proust's novel In Search of Lost Time.

The family name is considered to be a variation of Ephrati, as a reference to "Ephraim" in 1 Samuel 1:1, a Hebrew family name attested in the 14th century in the Iberian Peninsula (modern Spain and Portugal) as Efrati and later in central Europe and Russia as Ephrati or Ephrussi.[3]

Notable members[edit]

Notable members of the Ephrussi family include:


81 rue de Monceau, Paris

Notable properties of the family included:

Other Ephrussi[edit]

The Hare with Amber Eyes[edit]

The Hare with Amber Eyes (2010) is a family memoir of the Ephrussi family by British potter Edmund de Waal, whose grandmother was Elisabeth Ephrussi.


  1. ^ a b 'Hare' chronicles unheard of Jewish family, Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle (6 September 2011)
  2. ^ De Waal, Edmund (2010). The Hare with Amber Eyes. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-0-7011-8417-9.
  3. ^ Rottenberg, Dan (1986). Finding Our Fathers: A Guidebook to Jewish Genealogy. Genealogical. ISBN 9780806311517.
  4. ^ "Ephrussi Group – RNA localisation and localised translation in development".
  5. ^ Pinçon, Michel; Pinçon-Charlot, Monique; Secara, Andrea Lyn (1998). Grand Fortunes: Dynasties of Wealth in France. Algora. p. 124. ISBN 0-9646073-5-2.