Selim Zilkha

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Selim Zilkha
Born 1927 (age 89–90)
Baghdad, Iraq
Occupation entrepreneur
Known for founder, Mothercare
Net worth US$700 million (2001)[1]
Spouse(s) Diane Bashi (divorced)
Children Michael Zilkha and 3 daughters
Parent(s) Khedouri Zilkha
Relatives Ezra Zilkha (brother)

Selim Zilkha (born 1927) is an Iraqi-born British entrepreneur, who founded Mothercare, one of the UK's largest retail chains.

Early life[edit]

Selim Zilkha was born in 1927[2] in Baghdad to an Iraqi Jewish family, the son of the banker Khedouri Zilkha,[3] Zilkha was raised in Lebanon, Egypt and the United States, Selim Zilkha was educated at the Horace Mann School in New York City and Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.[4] He served in the US Army during World War II.[4]


He then worked in finance in the family firm Zilkha & Sons from 1947 to 1960.[4]

He then moved to the UK, where he bought the 50-store W.J. Harris nursery furniture chain, which he renamed Mothercare, and expanded it until it had over 400 stores. He sold his interest in Mothercare in 1981 and moved back to the United States.[4]

In 1982, he invested $28 million in Towner Petroleum[5] and in 1998, he sold his investment for $1 billion.[6]

In 2001, his net worth was estimated at US$700 million.[1]

In 2002, he donated $20 million to complete a Neurogenetic Institute in Los Angeles.[4]

He is currently the co-owner of Zilkha Biomass Energy, which owns timberland and which makes pellet biofuel in Texas.[7] He is also the co-owner of Laetitia Vineyard & Winery, Inc.[8]

Personal life[edit]

He married Diane Bashi, daughter of a wealthy Lebanese banker. They had divorced by 1962, before she was 25, and she married the British politician Harold Lever (later Harold Lever, Baron Lever of Manchester).[9]

They had a son, Michael Zilkha, the co-founder of ZE Records, and three daughters.[10]


  1. ^ a b Peter W. Bernstein; Annalyn Swan (2 December 2008). All the Money in the World. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 360. ISBN 978-0-307-26770-2. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  2. ^ Biography at Laetitia Vineyard website
  3. ^ Forbes: "From Baghdad to Bel Air" by Phyllis Berman February 23, 1998
  4. ^ a b c d e Los Angeles Businessman Selim Zilkha Pledges $20 million to USC’s Neurogenetic Institute USC News, 30 July 2002
  5. ^ A wildcatter on the tame side replacing roughnecks with computers New York Times, 20 March 1998
  6. ^ Sunday Times Rich List The Times, 1 March 2009
  7. ^ Zilkha: Our Owners: Selim K. Zilkha
  8. ^ Selim Zilkha Businessweek
  9. ^ "Stock Photo - Mar. 15, 1962 - LABOUR MP MARRIES IRAQI HEIRESS: Harold Lever, 48, Labour MP for Manchester's Cheatham, Division, today married". alamy. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  10. ^ New York Media, LLC (23 April 1984). New York Magazine. New York Media, LLC. pp. 54–57. ISSN 0028-7369. Retrieved 24 November 2015.