Nicolas Berggruen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Nicolas Berggruen
05082012Global governance073.jpg
Born (1961-08-10) 10 August 1961 (age 54)
Paris, France
Nationality Germany, United States
Alma mater New York University
Occupation Investor and Philanthropist
Net worth Steady$2.0 billion
(Sept 2013)[1]
Parent(s) Heinz Berggruen
Bettina Moissi
Website Berggruen Institute
Berggruen Holdings

Nicolas Berggruen (born 10 August 1961) is a philanthropist and investor. A dual American and German citizen,[2] he is the founder and president of Berggruen Holdings, a private investment company and the Berggruen Institute, a think tank that works on addressing governance issues. Through the Berggruen Institute he is also a co-founder with the Huffington Post of The WorldPost, a media publication dedicated to global issues.[3] His father created the Museum Berggruen in Berlin. The press has sometimes referred to Berggruen as "the homeless billionaire" because he lives in hotels and does not own a home.[4]

Education and business career[edit]

Berggruen was born in Paris, the son of art collector Heinz Berggruen,[5] and actress Bettina Moissi. His father was of German-Jewish descent and his mother a Catholic[6] of Austrian and Albanian descent. His maternal grandfather was Albanian-Austrian actor Aleksandër Moisiu and his maternal grandmother, Maria, was from Vienna. Berggruen attended the École Alsacienne in Paris and Le Rosey in Switzerland, before completing a baccalauréat in Paris as a candidat libre in 1978.[7][8] That same year, at the age of 17, he worked as a trainee at London Merchant Securities in London, known today as LMS Capital Plc.[2] He subsequently obtained a Bachelor of Science in Finance and International Business from New York University in 1981. He later worked for the investment company Bass Brothers Enterprises, in its real estate group.[9] Between 1983 and 1987, Berggruen was a Principal at Jacobson and Co.

In New York, he began building his fortune, based on a trust fund worth about $250,000,[2] by buying real estate before moving on to stocks, bonds and a portfolio of private equity and venture funds as well as hedge funds.[8] He founded Berggruen Holdings, Inc. in 1984 to act as investment adviser to a Berggruen family trust that has made over 50 direct investments in businesses since its inception. In 1988, he and Julio Mario Santo Domingo, Jr. co-founded Alpha Investment Management, a hedge fund that was reportedly sold to Safra Bank in 2004.[10] Today, the investments Berggruen oversees through Berggruen Holdings are highly diversified.

Berggruen Institute[edit]

Berggruen Governance Center[edit]

In 2010, Berggruen founded the Berggruen Institute, a think and action tank through which he aspires to develop and implement more effective systems of governance.[11] Through the institute, he has launched several government reform projects including the 21st Century Council which is focused on global governance challenges, the Council for the Future of Europe, to support work on European integration and the Think Long Committee for California a bi-partisan effort focused on reforming California's system of governance.[12] In 2015, Berggruen announced the launch of the Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center.[13]

The 21st Century Council was formed in 2011 to address gaps in global governance. The group, chaired by Ernesto Zedillo, includes political leaders such as Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Gerhard Schröder, Gordon Brown, George Yeo, Pascal Lamy, and Zheng Bijian. The council also includes several Nobel laureates and leading thinkers such as Joseph Stiglitz, Michael Spence, Lawrence Summers, and Francis Fukuyama as well as business and technology leaders Eric Schmidt, Jack Dorsey, and Pierre Omidyar among many others.[14]

The Council for the Future of Europe, was formed in 2011. In a statement released by the group in September 2011, the group advocated for a stronger, more integrated Europe suggesting that Europe's economic crisis can only be solved by a political solution.[15] The group, chaired by Mario Monti, includes political leaders and thinkers such as Tony Blair, Gerhard Schröder, Felipe González, Doris Leuthard, Jacques Delors, and Robert Mundell.

His project in California, the Think Long Committee for California also includes members from politics, industry, and labor from both Democrats and Republicans, such as George Schultz, Condoleezza Rice, Willie Brown, Gray Davis, Eric Schmidt, Eli Broad and Laura Tyson.[16][17]

Berggruen is a co-author (with Nathan Gardels) of a book on political governance: Intelligent Governance for the 21st Century: A Middle Way Between West and East, written with Nathan Gardels (Polity, 2012).[18] The Financial Times named it as one of their "Best Books of 2012."[19] In addition to English it has been translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Chinese, and is due to appear in Korean and Arabic.[citation needed]

Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center[edit]

In September 2015, Nicolas Berggruen announced the launch of the Berggruen Institute's Philosophy and Culture Center. The Center - dedicated to encouraging new ideas and fresh thinking across culture and disciplines - includes a fellowship program between Chinese and American universities, an ideas contest co-sponsored with the Aspen Institute, and an annual $1 million philosophy prize to be awarded by an international jury.[20] The Center collaborates with several universities and institutions, including the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University, China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy, New York University, USC Dornsife, and the Aspen Institute.

The Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center aims to realize its mission via three core initiatives:[21]

  1. A Global Fellowship Program. Understanding different cultures and ways of life depends on extended exposure to other societies. To this end, the Center sponsors a fellowship program that gives thinkers the opportunity to study, work and live at leading universities in China, the United States, and the United Kingdom. These efforts will result in symposia, video and written materials including articles and books.
  2. The annual $1 Million Berggruen Philosophy Prize. The prize will reward a living thinker whose ideas have deeply influenced our world. An independent and diverse jury composed of leading thinkers will award the prize. The first prize is expected to be awarded in the fall of 2016.
  3. The Aspen - Berggruen Ideas Contest. The Aspen - Berggruen Ideas Competition - co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute - will be organized annually to identify and further research ideas that will meaningfully impact the way we think and live. The first competition is expected to take place in the summer of 2016.

Institutional affiliations[edit]

Berggruen is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations,[22] Director on the Board of the Pacific Council on International Policy, member of Foro Iberoamericano, and member of the Commission on Global Ethics and Citizenship, chaired by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. In 2013 he was appointed by Harvard's Center for European Studies as its first non-resident Senior Fellow,[23] and was named a member of the Brookings International Advisory Council and the NYU President's Global Council. [24] In 2014 he was named a member of the Leadership Council at Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership, a member of Harvard University's Global Advisory Council, as well as a trustee of the Asia Society.[25]He is also a member of the World Economic Forum.[26]


Berggruen is the head of the Board of the Berggruen Museum in Berlin and a member of the Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA), the International Councils of the Tate Gallery in London, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He is also a member of the Beyeler Foundation, the International Council of the Serpentine Gallery,[27] and Sotheby's International Advisory Board.[28]

In close cooperation with LACMA he has been making acquisitions intended for the museum, including artworks by Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, Charles Ray, Chris Burden, Bruce Nauman, Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Martin Kippenberger, and Thomas Schütte.[8] Berggruen is interested in architecture and has collaborated on development projects with Richard Meier, Shigeru Ban, and David Adjaye.


Berggruen has committed to give the majority of his wealth through the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Trust[29] and has joined The Giving Pledge - a campaign set up by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage the wealthiest individuals in the world to commit to donate most of their wealth to charitable causes.[30]


  1. ^ Forbes The World's Billionaires: Nicolas Berggruen September 2013
  2. ^ a b c Jeremy Kahn (October 25, 2011), Billionaire Living Out of Tote Bag Amasses Fortune to Give Away Bloomberg
  3. ^ New York Times: "With Some Investing Help, Huffington Unveils a New International Venture"
  4. ^ Garofoli, Joe (25 September 2011). "Can billionaire Nicolas Berggruen fix California?". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Businessweek: "Deep Thoughts With the Homeless Billionaire" By Devin Leonard September 27, 2012
  6. ^ Der Spiegel: "Seinen Geist am Leben erhalten" by Ulrike Von Knöfel and Martin Doerry (in German) "Meine Mutter ist katholisch, mein Vater jüdisch" / My mother is Catholic, my father is Jewish
  7. ^ Stacy Meichtry (September 29, 2011), Man Without a Country Wall Street Journal.
  8. ^ a b c Jori Finkel (March 18, 2012), Nicolas Berggruen explains why he intends to give art to LACMA Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ Nicolas Berggruen Forbes.
  10. ^ Tett, Gillian (14 January 2011). "Lunch with the FT: Nicolas Berggruen". Financial Times. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  11. ^ Joe Garofoli "Can Billionaire Nicolas Berggruen Fix California", San Francisco Chronicle (September 25, 2011).
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ New York Times: "Nicolas Berggruen Wants to Bridge the East-West Gap"
  15. ^ [2]
  16. ^ Halper, Evan (27 October 2010). "Bid to remake California state government finds major benefactor". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  17. ^ "Burn the wagons". The Economist. 20 April 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  18. ^ [3]
  19. ^ Financial Times: "Best books of 2012" December 3, 2012
  20. ^ New York Times: "Nicolas Berggruen Wants to Bridge the East-West Gap"
  21. ^ New York Times: "Nicolas Berggruen Wants to Bridge the East-West Gap"
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ [4]
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^

External links[edit]