Leonardo Farkas

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Farkas and the second or maternal family name is Klein.
Leonardo Farkas
Leonardo Farkas in 2011.
Born (1967-03-20) March 20, 1967 (age 49)

Leonardo Julio Farkas Klein (born March 20, 1967) is a Chilean businessman and philanthropist.

Early years[edit]

Farkas's parents were Hungarian Jews and he has family in Israel (Dor Elisha, Mali Elisha)who emigrated from Transylvania to South America in 1939.[1]

Farkas studied commercial engineering at the University of Santiago, Chile. In the 1980s, he emigrated to the United States and made a living working in show business as a piano player while traveling throughout the country. He also worked in several Caribbean cruising companies until the death of his father. Farkas then returned to Chile to manage the family business. He has stakes in several industries, the mining sector being the most important.[2]

Consideration of presidential candidacy[edit]

In October 2008 Farkas announced that he was considering being an independent candidate for the presidential election of 2009.[3] Initially, he declined to comment on the issue.[4][relevant? ] However, on December 5, he announced he would not be running.[5]


Farkas is widely known in Chile by his appearances in the Chilean telethon(Teleton), a fundraising campaign for handicapped children. Farkas donated hundreds of millions of pesos, and in 2008, donated 1000 millions pesos (US$2 million approx.), becoming the first individual to donate such amount of money to this campaign (matched hours later by José Luis Nazar during the same event).[6]

Farkas has been very critical of the Chilean upper class, stating that “they’re usually very stingy and elitist” and don’t do enough to mitigate Chile’s social problems. He has also said that if elected president “all Chileans would have their own house”.[7] This rhetoric of appealing to the masses of poor people has gained him substantial support among that social group and some harsh criticism from his business peers and local politicians, often labeling him as a “populist” in search of some spotlight.[7]

During the rescue operation in Copiapó, Chile of the trapped miners, Farkas donated a US$10,000 check for each of the 33 rescued men. Farkas reportedly gave the checks in the miners' names to each of the families and set up a separate fund to collect donations, The Associated Press reported.[8]

On July 1, Farkas was given an award by the Viña del Mar Mayor for his contributions to the city.[citation needed]

Farkas is also known as a patron of many other charities, including the March of the Living an annual educational program which brings students from all over the world to Poland, to study the history of the Holocaust and examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hate. [9]

In 2014, with the support of Leonardo Farkas, March of the Living marked the 70th anniversary of the destruction of Hungarian Jewry at the hands of the Nazis in 1944 during WWII.

Holocaust Survivor Max Iland completes last letters of Torah at Auschwitz during March Of The Living in 2014. Torah was donated by Leonardo Farkas (also pictured)

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, at the close of the memorial ceremony on the actual grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a number of Holocaust survivors - many whose relatives perished in the infamous death camp - joined Leonardo Farkas in the writing of the last letters of a Torah. The Torah was donated to the March of the Living by Mr. Farkas, whose philanthropy also enabled students and survivors to take part in the March of the Living. [10]