Peter Munk

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Peter Munk
Born (1927-11-08) November 8, 1927 (age 89)
Budapest, Hungary
Residence Klosters, Switzerland[1]
Nationality Canadian
Occupation CEO of Barrick Gold
Known for co-chairman and founder of Barrick Gold
Spouse(s) Linda Joy Gutterson (1956-1970; divorced; 3 children)
Melanie Jane Bosanquet (1973-present; 2 children)

Peter Munk, CC (born November 8, 1927) is a Canadian businessman and philanthropist. He is the chairman and founder of the mining company Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold-mining corporation.

Early years[edit]

Part of a series of articles on
the Holocaust in Hungary
Blood for goods
Auschwitz entrance.JPG

Munk was born in Budapest, Hungary, into a well-off Jewish family, the son of Katherine (Adler) and Louis L. Munk.[3] Hungary was invaded by Nazi Germany in March 1944 when Munk was a teenager. His family escaped the Nazis on the Kastner train, a train carrying 1,684 Jews to safety in Switzerland, arranged by Rudolf Kastner of the Zionist Aid and Rescue Committee as a result of negotiations with senior SS officer Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann allowed some Jews to leave for Switzerland in exchange for money, gold, and diamonds, that was obtained from the wealthy among them as part of a series of so-called "blood for goods" deals.[4]

Munk graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in electrical engineering in 1952.[5]


In 1958, he founded Clairtone with business partner David Gilmour and backed by Frank Sobey. Clairtone manufactured high-end console stereos and later televisions, which were recognizable icons of their day. The most famous Clairtone designs were the "Project G" series which was seen in the film The Graduate.[6]

Clairtone's downfall began with "an ill-advised plan to build a plant in Nova Scotia." [7] The plant was built in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, where investor Frank Sobey had served as mayor and president of Nova Scotia’s Industrial Estates Limited (IEL). In 1967, due to increasing losses, Munk and Gilmore were forced to leave the company. "Munk was too good a salesman for his own good. He could sell anything to anyone, including himself…,"[8] said William Mingo, chief counsel for IEL. As a result, in order to try and recoup its multi-million dollar investments, the Government of Nova Scotia was forced to become owner of the company. Munk was eventually the target of accusations of insider trading "that were eventually settled out of court." [7] In 1967 a report commissioned by Clairtone in the aftermath of the factory's failure found that one of the main issues was the local workforce. "The general population is basically not geared to the manufacturing frenzy and especially the five-day workweek... The welfare situation is such that it has created conditions similar to Appalachia in the United States where the third generation is already on relief."[8]

After this episode Munk and Gilmour moved to Fiji and invested in a hotel. They would turn this investment into the Southern Pacific Hotel Corporation, which at its peak consisted of 54 resorts in the South Pacific. Noted Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi was an early partner in the hotel chain.

In 1979 Munk left the South Pacific and returned to Canada. Upon his return he was treated poorly by bankers and the establishment. “They treated me like a fugitive and a loser,” Munk said.[9]

Munk was chairman and founder of Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold mining corporation. Munk was founder, chairman and CEO of Trizec Properties (one of the largest U.S. REITs – listed on the NYSE), where in 2006 Trizec was sold to Brookfield Properties.[10]

He was a distinguished lecturer at James Gillies Alumni Lecture, York University, Toronto. Munk has also been a member of various boards including:

Charitable contributions[edit]

In 1992, the Peter Munk Charitable Foundation was founded and has since disbursed approximately $100 million to a variety of organizations that work to improve the health, learning and international reputation of Canadians.[11]

On May 30, 2006, Munk announced that he would donate $37 million to Toronto General Hospital, the largest gift ever made to a Canadian medical institution. The donation would help to support the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, which Munk helped create with a $6 million donation to the hospital in 1997.[12] He is also a major donor to the University of Toronto, to which he has donated $50.9 million to establish the Munk School of Global Affairs. The foundation also created the Munk Debates. The latest contract between the Munk Foundation and the University of Toronto has come under criticism due to the secrecy that shrouded its approval, and the fact that Munk's contribution of $35 million were conditional on $25 million contributions each by the federal government and the university. Coming at a time of downsizing and threats to the funding of other academic units, critics charge that these decisions are emblematic of the government's and the University's ceding of academic resource allocation decisions to the corporate sector.[13]

According to Linda McQuaig's book, The Trouble with Billionaires, Munk’s latest donation to the University of Toronto came with strings attached to ensure that the school would "fit with the political views and sensitivities of Peter Munk." McQuaig writes that "according to Munk's written agreement with the university, the Munk donations will be paid over an extended time period, with much of the money to be paid years from now — and subject to the Munk family's approval of the school. For that matter, the school's director will be required to report annually to a board appointed by Munk 'to discuss the programs, activities and initiatives of the School in greater detail.'"[14][15][16] University president David Naylor rejected personal attacks on donors as "a deplorable affront to the values of rational and respectful discourse that are supposed to characterize a university" and stated "I later served on the board of the University Health Network, in the years when Dr. Munk made two gifts exceeding $40 million to support the cardiovascular program at that hospital. There was not a single instance where Peter Munk interfered with the educational, research or clinical priorities of the institution."[17]

Personal life[edit]

In 1956, Munk married Linda Joy (Gutterson), the daughter of a Forest Hill pharmaceutical entrepreneur—the Toronto "Old Guard"—who gave him his first break, backing him with money and telling him to quit his job. Linda Joy was a 19 year old not long out of Havergal College; he was ten years older. “Linda tracked me down with a laser beam,” said Mr. Munk. “I was a curiosity; I was different. Not because I was so great, let me tell you, I was fat, bald, poor, a boring engineering student.” [18] The couple separated and reunited more than once in the 1960s, having three children and divorcing in 1970 but staying on very good terms. After the marriage was over, she pursued an academic career, ending up as professor of English at the University of Toronto.[19][20]

In 1973, Munk married his current wife, Melanie Jane Bosanquet, with whom he had two more children.[21] She is the cousin of Charles Palmer-Tomkinson, a British land-owner and Olympic skier. Peter Munk skied for 71 years, and the Munks have a ski chalet called Viti Levu in Klosters, which they consider home.[22]

His children are Anthony, a director of Onex Corporation and his father's company Barrick Gold; Nina Munk, a New York-based journalist, book author, and contributing editor at Vanity Fair; Marc-David, a physician; Natalie; and Cheyne, formerly principal of her sister Nina's site.[23]

Munk is an honorary board member of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) of Toronto.


He has received several honorary degrees:

He became Officer of The Order of Canada (Canada's highest civilian honour) in 1993 and was promoted to Companion in 2008;[24] received The Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship in 2002 (the first time awarded outside the U.S.); has been inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame.

The Munk School of Global Affairs, an interdisciplinary academic centre at the University of Toronto, carries his name and was founded in part with an $80 million grant from the Peter and Melanie Munk Foundation.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Anna Porter on a Hungarian pariah". CBC News. 2006-09-21. Archived from the original on November 5, 2007. 
  3. ^ The Canadian Who's who - Elizabeth Lumley - Google Books. Retrieved 2014-05-01 – via Google Books. 
  4. ^ Ligaya, Armina. "Anna Porter on a Hungarian pariah", CBC News, September 21, 2006.
  5. ^ "Peter Munk Industrialist and Graduate". University of Toronto. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  6. ^ Pitts, Gordon (2008-04-18). "Peter Munk: The lessons from the Clairtone story". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. 
  7. ^ a b "Peter Munk's final play -". Retrieved 2015-11-02. 
  8. ^ a b "My Father's Brilliant Mistake - Nina Munk". Retrieved 2015-11-02. 
  9. ^ Newman, Peter (1998-10-19). Titans. Toronto: Viking Canada. ISBN 9780670883363. 
  10. ^ Cave, Andrew (2008-02-26). "Midas Munk has a real heart of gold". The Telegraph. London. 
  11. ^ "Jolly gold giant". The Economist. 2008-04-17. 
  12. ^ Cole, Patrick (2006-05-30). "Barrick Gold's Peter Munk Gives $33.6 Mln to Toronto Hospital". Bloomberg. 
  13. ^ "Great Minds brainstorm corporate takedown". 
  14. ^ Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks, "Excerpt: The Trouble with Billionaires by Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks", The Toronto Star, September 10, 2010
  15. ^ The Memorandum of Agreement between the Munk Foundation and the University is available on the University of Toronto's website and detailed critiques of the contract can be found online.
  16. ^ Caplan, Gerald "Money really can buy anything – even at the University of Toronto", Globe and Mail, December 17, 2010
  17. ^ Naylor, David. "President's Letter on Philanthropy at the University of Toronto". Office of the President, University of Toronto. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  18. ^ "Linda Munk left the life of luxury to reinvent herself through the arts" NOREEN SHANAHAN. The Globe and Mail. 17 May 2013
  19. ^,5660399
  20. ^ The Globe and Mail. Toronto  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ McLaren, Leah (2011-11-07). "Destination Munkistan: A look at Peter Munk's new Adriatic playground for the super-rich". Retrieved 2014-05-01. 
  22. ^ "Peter Munk: A mining magnate nears the end of his golden reign" ERIC REGULY. The Globe and Mail 15 March 2014
  23. ^ "'Cheyne Munk Beys' LinkedIn profile". 
  24. ^ Lynch, Damian (2008-12-30). "Order of Canada honours for 'Wise Men'". Financial Post Magazine. 

External links[edit]