Marcel Boussac

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Marcel Boussac
Born(1889-04-17)17 April 1889
Died(1980-03-21)21 March 1980 (aged 90)
Perfume manufacturing
Newspaper publishing
Racehorse owner/breeder
Spouse(s)Fanny Heldy

Marcel Boussac (17 April 1889 – 21 March 1980) was a French entrepreneur best known for his ownership of the Maison Dior and one of the most successful thoroughbred race horse breeding farms in European history.

Born in Châteauroux, Indre, France, Boussac made a fortune in textile manufacturing. In 1919 he acquired the Château de Mivoisin, a 36 square kilometre property located 1½ hours south of Paris in Dammarie-sur-Loing, Loiret.

In 1946, he financed Christian Dior's new Paris fashion house that became one of the most famous clothing and perfume marques in history. In 1951 Boussac expanded into the newspaper business with the acquisition of L'Aurore.

An avid horseman, Marcel Boussac acquired the Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard horse breeding farm in Neuvy-au-Houlme in Lower Normandy and the Haras de Jardy in Marnes-la-Coquette. As part of his breeding operation, Boussac bought and sold horses from across Europe plus from the United States. He acquired the U.S. Triple Crown winner Whirlaway and sold the mare La Troienne to Edward R. Bradley's Idle Hour Stock Farm in Lexington, Kentucky who became one of the most influential mares to be imported into the U.S. in the 20th century.

Boussac's horses dominated French racing from the 1930s through to the 1960s making his stable the leading money winner fourteen times and the leading breeder on seventeen occasions. In addition to being a six-time winner of France's most important race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Boussac's horses also won the prestigious Epsom Derby, Epsom Oaks, 2,000 Guineas, St. Leger Stakes, Ascot Gold Cup and others in the United Kingdom.

With the Fall of France in the Second World War, Boussac paid a British Royal Air Force officer on secret business to fly him from Paris to the UK. This caused the officer Sidney Cotton to be removed from his position.[1] During the German occupation of France in World War II, the Nazis seized some of the best racehorses in the country. They shipped more than six hundred of them out of the country, some to Hungary but most back to Germany for racing or for breeding at the German National Stud. Among them was the champion Pharis, owned by Marcel Boussac.

He was married for many years to the Belgian opera star Fanny Heldy. They are buried together in the Cimetière de Montmartre in the Montmartre Quarter of Paris.

On his passing in 1980, Boussac's estate was liquidated and L'Aurore sold to Robert Hersant who merged it with his Le Figaro newspaper. The property itself would eventually be acquired by Stavros Niarchos. The Aga Khan IV had purchased the bulk of the Boussac farm's breeding stock in 1978 when Boussac's companies were declared bankrupt.[2]

In his honor, the Prix Marcel Boussac, a Group One Stakes Race, is run annually at the Longchamp Racecourse.


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-08-07. Retrieved 2009-01-19. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Baerlein, Richard (1984). Shergar : and the Aga Khan's thoroughbred empire. London: Michael Joseph Ltd. pp. 57–61. ISBN 0718121767.