Nicolas Berggruen

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Nicolas Berggruen
Born (1961-08-10) 10 August 1961 (age 57)
Paris, France
NationalityGermany, United States
Alma materNew York University
OccupationInvestor and Philanthropist
Net worthSteady$2.0 billion
(February 2018)[1]
Parent(s)Heinz Berggruen
Bettina Moissi
WebsiteOfficial site

Nicolas Berggruen (/ˈbɜːrɡrn, bɜːrˈɡrən/;[2] born 10 August 1961) is a philanthropist and investor. A dual American and German citizen,[3] 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 as well as the cultures and philosophies behind political systems. Through the Berggruen Institute he is also a co-founder, with the Washington Post, of The WorldPost, a media publication dedicated to global issues.[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 German and Italian/Albanian descent. 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] He worked as a trainee at London Merchant Securities in London, known today as LMS Capital Plc.[3] 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.[citation needed]

In New York, based on a trust fund worth about $250,000,[3] Berggruen began 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. 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]

The press has referred to Berggruen as "the homeless billionaire", as at one point he lived in hotels and did not own a home.[11][12][5]

Berggruen Institute[edit]

Berggruen Governance Center[edit]

In 2010, Berggruen founded the Berggruen Institute, a self-styled "think and action tank."[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 bipartisan effort focused on reforming California's system of governance.[13] In 2015, Berggruen announced the launch of the Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center.[14]

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). The Financial Times named it as one of their "Best Books of 2012".[15]

Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center[edit]

In September 2015, Berggruen announced the launch of the Berggruen Institute's Philosophy and Culture Center. The Center includes a fellowship program between Chinese and American universities, an ideas contest, and an annual $1 million philosophy prize to be awarded by an international jury.[14]

Institutional affiliations[edit]

Berggruen is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations,[16] Director on the Board of the Pacific Council on International Policy, a member of Foro Iberoamericano, a member of the Helena Group, and a member of the Commission on Global Ethics and Citizenship. In 2013 he was appointed by Harvard's Center for European Studies as its first non-resident Senior Fellow,[17] and was named a member of the Brookings International Advisory Council and the NYU President's Global Council.[18] 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.[19] He is also a member of the World Economic Forum.[20]


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,[21] and Sotheby's International Advisory Board.[22] In cooperation with LACMA, he has been making acquisitions intended for the museum.[8]


Berggruen has committed to give the majority of his wealth through the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Trust[23] and has joined The Giving Pledge.[24] Berggruen has endowed the Berggruen Institute with $500 Million to further the activities and broaden its global reach.[25]

Through Berggruen Holdings, Berggruen was a primary investor and developer in Newark, New Jersey's Teachers Village.[26] He was also honored by his alma mater, NYU Stern, at the 2016 Haskins Giving Society Award Dinner for his commitment to business and public service.[27]

In 2018, he received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Berggruen has two children, who were born from one egg-donor and two surrogates.[29] His brother is the art historian Olivier Berggruen.


  1. ^ Forbes The World's Billionaires: Nicolas Berggruen September 2013
  2. ^ "Nicolas Berggruen on 'Giving Pledge' and think tanks"; "Investing in Ideas: CNN Interview with Nicolas Berggruen".
  3. ^ a b c Jeremy Kahn (October 25, 2011), Billionaire Living Out of Tote Bag Amasses Fortune to Give Away Bloomberg
  4. ^ Merced, Michael J. de la. "With Some Investing Help, Huffington Unveils a New International Venture".
  5. ^ a b 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. ^ a b Garofoli, Joe (25 September 2011). "Can billionaire Nicolas Berggruen fix California?". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2 October 2011 – via
  12. ^ Curwen, Tom. "On his Santa Monica mountaintop, a billionaire envisions lofty thoughts on politics and culture". L.A. Times. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-19. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
  14. ^ a b "Nicolas Berggruen Wants to Bridge the East-West Gap". The New York Times. 16 September 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  15. ^ Financial Times: "Best books of 2012" December 3, 2012
  16. ^ "Membership Roster". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  17. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
  18. ^ "International Advisory Council". The Brookings Institution. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  19. ^ "Co-Chairs and Trustees". Asia Society. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  20. ^ "Nicolas Berggruen - World Economic Forum". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  21. ^ "Support". Serpentine Galleries. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  22. ^ "Sotheby's - Board of Directors". Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  23. ^ "Home Page". Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  24. ^
  25. ^ chrispalmeri, Christopher Palmeri. "`Homeless Billionaire' Charms L.A. With $500 Million Gift". Retrieved 2016-06-16.
  26. ^ "Teachers Village | Team". Retrieved 2016-06-16.
  27. ^ "NYU Stern | Haskins Giving Society Award Dinner". Retrieved 2016-06-16.
  28. ^ "2018 Ellis Island Medal of Honor Recipients". Retrieved 2018-05-13.
  29. ^ Los Angeles Times: "On his Santa Monica mountaintop, a billionaire envisions lofty thoughts on politics and culture" by Thomas Curwen April 30, 2016

External links[edit]