Nicky Oppenheimer

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Nicky Oppenheimer
Vladimir Putin in South Africa 5-6 September 2006-16.jpg
Oppenheimer (right) with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2006
Born (1945-06-08) 8 June 1945 (age 75)
South Africa
EducationHarrow School
Christ Church, Oxford
Net worthUS$7.4 billion (April 2019)[1]
Spouse(s)Orcillia Lasch
ChildrenJonathan Oppenheimer

Nicholas F. Oppenheimer (born 8 June 1945) is a South African billionaire businessman. He was formerly the chairman of De Beers diamond mining company and of its subsidiary, the Diamond Trading Company, and former deputy chairman of Anglo American. He is the third richest man in Africa.[2]

Early life[edit]

Oppenheimer is the son of Bridget (née McCall) and Harry Oppenheimer, and grandson of Anglo American founder Ernest Oppenheimer (the first generation to chair De Beers, from 1929).[3] His father was of German Jewish descent. He was educated at Harrow School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics, earning an Oxford MA.[4]

Business career[edit]

Oppenheimer joined Anglo American in 1968, was appointed a director in 1974, then became deputy chairman in 1983. He resigned in 2001, remaining a non-executive director until 2011.

He was appointed deputy chairman of the then Central Selling Organisation (now Diamond Trading Company) in 1984, and deputy chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines in 1985. He was also appointed chairman of the Diamond Trading Company in 1985.[5] Chairman of the De Beers Group from 1998 to 2012, he retired when the family stake was sold to Anglo American.[6]

Oppenheimer appeared on the Sunday Times Rich List 2018 as the 23rd richest person in the United Kingdom, with a reported fortune of £5.5 billion.[7] He was ranked as the richest person in South Africa on Forbes list of The World's Billionaires for 2019, with a fortune reported as US$7.3 billion[8] and, again, on its 2020 list,[9] with a reported fortune of US$7.6 billion in August 2020.[10]


The Oppenheimer family has directed much of its philanthropic efforts towards preserving the heritage and cultural importance of the Southern African region, as well as to broader community upliftment in the areas of education, health, nature conservation and the arts. Nicky Oppenheimer and his son Jonathan Oppenheimer established the Brenthurst Foundation in 2005 as a way to contribute to the debate around strategies and policies for strengthening Africa's economic performance and enabling inclusive and sustainable development.

The family has also long been involved in environmental and conservation issues.[11] The Oppenheimer family partnered with De Beers to establish the Diamond Route in 2006 to maximise the potential of their properties for conservation, research and environmental awareness purposes. The Diamond Route links 8 sites across northern South Africa, stretching from Namaqualand on the west coast, to Kimberley, north to Tswalu in the Kalahari, and to the Brenthurst Gardens in Johannesburg, eastwards to Ezemvelo Nature Reserve and northwards to the Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve in Limpopo Province.[12] Since 2015 Oppenheimer is also a Rhodes Trustee.[13]


In 2003, the Technikon Witwatersrand awarded Oppenheimer an honorary doctorate.[14] He received the Presidential Order of Honor (2004) from the former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae,[15] and an honorary fellowship (2009) from the London Business School.[16]

Personal life[edit]

In 1968, he married Orcillia "Strilli" Lasch, daughter of industrial tycoon Helli Lasch; both are Anglican. His father was born Jewish and converted to Anglicanism.[17]


  • Over, Luke; Oppenheimer, Nicky; Tyrrell, Chris (illustrator) (2001). Waltham Place: and its Surrounding Parish. ISBN 0-9541669-0-6.[18]


  1. ^ "Forbes profile: Nicky Oppenheimer & family". Forbes. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  2. ^ Forbes (2017). "Africa's 50 Richest List".
  3. ^ De Beers: "Our History" Archived 10 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine 2014
  4. ^ DEbswana: "Nicky Oppenheimer" Archived 2 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine 2000.
  5. ^ Mining Weekly: "De Beers' Nicky Oppenheimer to receive lifetime achievement award" 24 August 2012
  6. ^ Rough and Polished: "After De Beers, what's next for the Oppenheimers?" 12 January 2012.
  7. ^ "Meet the ultra-rich South Africans you’ve probably never heard of", Business Tech, 18 May 2018. Accessed 22 March 2019.
  8. ^ "5 South Africans on Forbes’ list of the richest people in the world", Business Tech, March 6, 2019.
  9. ^ "The World's Real-Time Billionaires". Forbes. 2020. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  10. ^ "#258 Nicky Oppenheimer & family". Forbes. 14 August 2020. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  11. ^ "The Oppenheimer Story | Tswalu Kalahari". Archived from the original on 21 December 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  12. ^ Mostert, © Duncan MacFadyen, © Warwick. "The Diamond Route Story". Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  13. ^ "Current Trustees". Rhodes House. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  14. ^ "Nicholas Oppenheimer, Anglo American Gold Investment Co Ltd: Profile & Biography". Bloomberg. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  15. ^ Polished Prices: "Weekly Market Report" 5 September 2010
  16. ^ Israeli Diamond: "Nicky Oppenheimer Takes helm as Debswana Chairman" Archived 29 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine 1 September 2010
  17. ^ Minchom, Clive (11 June 2013). "Diamonds May Not Be For Ever – But at the Moment They Look Pretty Good". Jewish Business News. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  18. ^ Nicholas Oppenheimer (November 2001). Waltham Place: and its Surrounding Parish. ASIN 0954166906.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Harry Frederick Oppenheimer
Chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines
circa 1983–2012
Succeeded by
Cynthia Carroll