Mitchell Rales

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Mitchell Rales
Born 1956 (age 60–61)
Nationality United States
Alma mater B.A. Miami University
Occupation Businessman
Known for co-founder of conglomerate Danaher Corporation
Net worth Decrease US$ 4.0 billion (July 2014)[1]
Spouse(s) Lyn Rales (divorced)
Emily Wei (current)
Children 2 with Lyn Rales
Parent(s) Ruth and Norman Rales
Family Steven M. Rales (brother)

Mitchell Rales (born 1956 (age 60–61)) is an American businessman and a collector of modern and contemporary art. He has been a director of Danaher Corporation since 1983. In collaboration with his wife Emily Wei Rales, an art historian and curator, he has established Glenstone, a museum in Potomac, Maryland, which presents exhibitions of their collection of modern and contemporary art and installations of outdoor sculpture.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Raised in a Jewish family,[3] Mitchell is one of four sons of Norman and Ruth Rales. His father was raised in an orphanage, the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in New York City and later became a very successful businessman who sold his building supply company in Washington, D.C. to his employees in what was the first employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) transaction in the U.S. His father was also a philanthropist founding the Norman and Ruth Rales Foundation and the Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service. Mitchell has three brothers: Joshua, Steven, and Stewart.[4][5]

Mitchell grew up in Bethesda, Maryland and graduated from Walt Whitman High School in 1974.[6] He earned a degree in business administration at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1978 and was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.[7]


In 1979, he left his father's real estate firm to found Equity Group Holdings, with his brother Steven M. Rales. Using junk bonds, they bought a diversified line of businesses. They changed the name to Diversified Mortgage Investors, in 1978, and then Danaher, in 1984.

In the 1980s, the AM side of WGMS was sold off to Washington, D.C., venture capitalists Steven and Mitchell Rales, who converted the music station into the first frequency for WTEM, a sports-talk station, in 1992. In 1988, he made a hostile takeover bid for Interco, Inc, which was, at the time, the nation's largest manufacturer of furniture and men's shoes (owning both Converse shoes and the Ethan Allen furniture).[8][9] He later ended the bid after five months with a profit of $60 million.[10]

In May 2008, they engineered the initial public offering of Colfax, a Richmond, Virginia industrial pumps manufacturer.[11]


He is on the board of the National Gallery of Art and is a former board member of the Hirshhorn Museum.


Glenstone presents rotating exhibitions of modern and contemporary masterworks drawn from its own collection and a selection of outdoor sculptures by modern and contemporary masters, sited on 200 acres (81 ha) of landscaped lawns, meadows, and woods in Potomac, Maryland. The first museum building, designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, opened to the public in 2006. A second museum building, designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners, began construction in 2013.[2] The Glenstone collection also continues to expand.[12] Admission to Glenstone's exhibitions (such as a retrospective of the work of Peter Fischli and David Weiss) is free, with advance reservation required.[13]

The original Glenstone museum building overlooks a 3-acre (1.2 ha) pond. The 22,000-square-foot (2,000 m2) museum is a multiple volume, single-level structure clad in zinc panels and French limestone. A large, naturally lit sculpture gallery is the organizing element for a sequence of 18-foot (5.5 m)-high gallery spaces with state-of-the-art museum environmental controls, and an administrative office suite. The sculpture gallery is also the gathering space for receptions and special events and opens onto a terrace overlooking the pond and grounds. Support space to one side of the galleries includes high-density art storage, temporary holding space, a service dock and a catering kitchen.[14]

Visitors to the organically maintained museum grounds, designed by PWP Landscape Architects, pass through an entry gatehouse and then drive along a maple tree-lined road, passing between two commissioned sculptures by Richard Serra and Tony Smith. The cobblestone entry court, anchored by another Richard Serra piece, has views of the pond, the residence and a commissioned Ellsworth Kelly totem sculpture which acts as the site's fulcrum.[citation needed] For a 150-acre estate, PWP created a landscape that engages the architecture, art, and ecological systems of the Potomac River Valley. The site was re-graded from its subdivision state with rough transitions smoothed and angular slopes removed. Two hundred existing trees—root-pruned and transplanted to new locations on site—were supplemented with 1,800 trees raised in an on-site nursery to form a landscape that reads at a grand scale.[15]

The new museum building will be a 150,000-square-foot structure designed as a series of pavilions, which appear to be embedded in a hilltop. The linked pavilions, built of stacked concrete blocks and glass, face inward to a central water courtyard. Also included in the design as separate structures are an arrival pavailion and a cafe, both built out of cedar.[16]

In July 2012, the Washington Post reported on controversy in the local community over Rales's request to connect the museum to the mains sewer to support the expansion of Glenstone.[17] The Montgomery County authorities subsequently approved Rales's request unanimously.[18] On July 30, 2012, the Glenstone grounds were featured on the PBS program Growing A Greener World.[19]

In November 2015, the New York Times reported the museum claimed an annual attendance of 25,000 visitors, about 125 per day based on the facility being open four days a week.[20] [21] Reservations are required to visit the museum.

Personal life[edit]

Rales has been married twice:

  • Lyn Goldthorp Rales with whom he has two children. They divorced in 1999.[22] Their son Matthew founded the grass-based livestock farm ‘Grassential LLC.’[23][24]
  • Emily Wei (b. 1976), the director of Glenstone[2][13]


  1. ^ Forbes: The World's Billionaires - Mitchell Rales July 2014
  2. ^ a b c Vogel, Carol (April 18, 2013). "Mitchell and Emily Rales Are Expanding Glenstone Museum". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Washington Jewish Week: "Five local Jews make Forbes richest list" October 7, 2009
  4. ^ Sun Sentinel: "Norman Rales, orphan to wealthy businessman and philanthropist, is dead at 88" By Lisa J. Huriash March 15, 2012
  5. ^ Jewish Family Service: "Ruth Rales, 81, Philanthropist by Tal Abbady April 1, 2004
  6. ^ Murphy, Carolyn and Lynn Stander (September 2005). "We Knew Them When". Bethesda Magazine. 
  7. ^ Kiger, Patrick J. (November 1994). "The good guys: Steven and Mitchell Rales have quietly brown-bagged their way to fortunes worth half a billion dollars. But they'd rather you didn't know that. Or them.". Regardie's Magazine. 
  8. ^ David A. Vise; Steve Coll (August 23, 1988). "The Rales Brothers Play for Big Stakes; Little-Known Area Family Builds an Industrial Empire". The Washington Post. 
  9. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Request on Interco". The New York Times. August 4, 1988. 
  10. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Rales Brothers Sell Their Interco Stake". The New York Times. December 16, 1988. 
  11. ^ Thomas Heath (July 7, 2008). "The Quiet Dynamism of the Brothers Rales". The Washington Post. 
  12. ^ Vogel, Carol (June 6, 2013). "Elevators as Art, for the New Whitney". The New York Times. 
  13. ^ a b Kennicott, Philip (May 17, 2013). "Museums". The Washington Post. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Spivack, Miranda S. (2012-07-09). "Art collector Mitchell Rales’s grand design hangs up over sewer issue". Washington Post, 9 July 2012. Retrieved on 2012-07-10 from
  18. ^ Spivack, Miranda S. (July 24, 2012). "Rales sewer for art gallery gets approval at Montgomery Council; state review is next". The Washington Post. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ Cohen, Patricia (29 November 2015). "Tax Status of Museums Questioned by Senators". New York Times. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  21. ^ "Official Web Site". Glenstone Museum. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  22. ^ Washington City Paper: "A Very Private Collection - Why won't Mitchell Rales do the docent thing? A tale of a Maryland museum not open to the public" by Angela Valdez June 6, 2008
  23. ^ Intelligent Food: Mitchell Rales, founder of the bio-diverse animal farm, 'Grassential LLC’ retrieved July 5, 2014
  24. ^ Lancaster Farming: "Raw Milk Soiree" by Tracy Sutton retrieved July 5, 2014

External links[edit]