Ronald Steven Lauder was born February 26, 1944 and he is one of the biggest American business men, billionaire , philanthropist, art collector and political activist.

Ronald Lauder Biography

Lauder was born in New York City to a Jewish family, the son of Estée Lauder and Joseph Lauder, founders of the Estée Lauder Companies . He is the younger brother of Leonard Lauder , chairman of the Estée Lauder Companies.

He was attending the Bronx High School of Science and has a bachelor’s degree in International Business from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania . He was studying at the University of Paris and received a Certificate in International Business from the University of Brussels .

Ronald Lauder Neue Galerie

On November 16, 2001, Lauder was opening the Neue Galerie in New York, an art museum across the street from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Neue Galerie is dedicated to the art of Germany and Austria from the early 20th century. It has one of the best collections of works by Egon Schiele in the world.

On June 18, 2006, he was purchasing Gustav Klimt ‘s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I from Maria Altmann and his family for $135 million, the highest price ever paid for a painting at the time. He was calling the painting “Our Mona Lisa”. He reportedly saw Klimt’s portrait when he was young in Vienna and had admired it ever since.

The painting, a Nazi-looted artwork that had just been restored to Altmann after years of negotiations and litigation with the Austrian government, now forms the centerpiece of the museum’s collection.

He is also having the world’s largest private collection of Medieval and Renaissance armor

He has been criticized for not settling a case involving the Musem Of Modern Art (MoMA), which in 1997 exhibited some paintings owned by Rudolph Leopold, a Viennese physician and art collector.

An investigative article published in The New York Times on December 24, 1997, “A Singular Passion for Hoarding Art, One Way or Another,” described a case involving the Portrait of Wallyby Egon Schiele, which was in the MoMA exhibition, but was obtained by Leopold. 

Shortly after the Nazi era. The New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney stepped in to help restore the piece to the descendants of its original owner, but ownership of the painting is still in dispute, nearly ten years later. Lauder has been accused of not acting on the case, despite being president of MoMA at the time. 

He is an honorary trustee of the World Monuments Fund, a New York-based nonprofit organization with a mission to protect endangered cultural heritage sites around the world.

In 1987, Lauder was establishing the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to rebuilding Jewish life in Central and Eastern Europe. 

The foundation also supports student exchange programs between New York and various capitals of Central and Eastern Europe.

In 1998, he was co-founding the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation with his brother, Leonard A. Lauder.  Its mission is “to rapidly accelerate the discovery of drugs to prevent, treat, and cure Alzheimer’s disease. ” Ronald continues as co-chairman of the Foundation.

In 2020, he was donating 91 pieces of arms and armor to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The gift of 91 objects is the museum’s largest since 1942. To honor the gift, the museum’s entire group of arms and armor galleries are now named after Lauder.

Ronald Lauder Net Worth

He is an American businessman, billionaire, and philanthropist who has a net worth of $3.8 billion.

Ronald Lauder Career

He was working for the Estée Lauder Company in 1964. In 1984, he was becoming Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for NATO and European Policy at the United States Department of Defense .

In 1986, Ronald Reagan appointed him United States Ambassador to Austria , a position he held until 1987. As ambassador, he fired diplomatic officer Felix Bloch , who later became notorious in connection with the Robert Hanssen espionage case .

As a Republican , he was attempting to become mayor of New York City in 1989 , losing to Rudy Giuliani in the Republican primary.  His campaign managers were Roger Ailes of Fox News and Arthur Finkelstein , a staunch supporter of Richard Nixon .

Michael Massing, writing about this nomination race, notes that, politically, Lauder “seemed out of step with most Jewish Americans. He ran to the right of Rudolph Giuliani. And, on Israeli issues, he was a vocal supporter of the Likud party, with long-standing ties to Benjamin Netanyahu.” 

In 1998, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Lauder to begin Track II negotiations with Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad; these negotiations continued after the election of Ehud Barak to the position. 

He was communicating a new willingness on Assad’s part to make compromises with the Israelis in a comprehensive land-for-peace deal, and his draft “Israel-Syria Peace Treaty” formed an important part of the (ultimately unsuccessful) Israeli-Israeli negotiations and Syria, which occurred in January 2000 in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. 

Lauder manages real estate and media investments, including Central European media companies and Israeli television. In 2010, Lauder founded RWL Water, LLC.

He has been involved with organizations, such as the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Jewish National Fund, the World Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Rabbinical College of America, Brandeis University, and Abraham Fund. 

With his brother he founded the Lauder Institute at the Wharton School. Lauder has also served as finance chairman for the New York Republican State Committee.

In 2003, he was  founding and he became president of the Lauder Business School in Vienna, Austria.

He led a movement to introduce term limits on the New York City Council, which were subsequently imposed on most New York City elected officials, including the Mayor and City Council, after a referendum in the entire city in 1993.

In 1996, voters rejected a proposal by the Council to extend term limits. 

He spent $4 million on the two referendums. He has been involved in environmental conservation efforts on eastern Long Island and has served on the board of directors of the conservation organization Group for the East End since 2002. 

Ronald Lauder Wife

He is married to Jo Carole Lauder.

They have two children, Aerin and Jane.

Lauder’s daughter, Jane, is married to Kevin Warsh, a former member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. 

A 2007 profile of Lauder in The New Yorker magazine detailed her residences, including three Manhattan properties: a row house on East 70th Street, the Rockefeller Guest House on East 52nd Street, as well as an apartment at 740 Park Avenue. 

The profile also listed houses in Florida, London, Paris, and Wainscott, Long Island. 

Ronald Lauder Women In Gold

In June 2006, Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, and son of Estée Lauder, the billionaire founder of the cosmetic empire that bears her name, broke all records by acquiring Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I , by Gustav Klimt for 135 million dollars. 

It was the largest amount ever paid for a painting. Then an extraordinary story culminated.

It began in 1906, when Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, a wealthy Austrian sugar industrialist, patron of the arts, and collector, commissioned the painter Gustav Klimt to paint a portrait of his wife Adele

Klimt was then part of the Viennese Secession group , a modernist movement that sought to break with the stylistic canons of the past to give birth to a new way of understanding painting. 

Deeply inspired after a trip to Ravenna, in Italy, where the Byzantine mosaics had decisively impressed him, the artist began to work with the textures of gold in which he would later specialize., and that will mean a work differentiated from his contemporaries. 

It was the search for an illusionism of extravagant wealth that would meet the expectations of its clients, at the same time that it functioned as the spearhead of the new decoration of a century that began placid and carefree .

Before she died of meningitis in 1925, Adele wrote in her will that her husband donate this painting, and a second portrait of her, to the Austrian Gallery. But the donation was never made effective, while the war gradually covered Europe with disastrous clouds. 

The Bloch-Bauers were Jewish, in 1938 the family collections were confiscated and placed under the tutelage of the National Socialist Party while Ferdinand went into exile in Switzerland, where he died, bankrupt, in 1945.

Clinging to her uncle’s will, which avoided the donation, and the conviction that it was up to them to do justice to the family memory, Maria Altman, born Maria Victoria Bloch, and her siblings faced the Austrian state in an unprecedented legal battle that lasted fifty years , and which ended with the return of the paintings to their rightful owners after arbitration. It was a costly and reckless battle.

In 2005 the paintings were taken down from the Belvedere Palace, in Vienna, and left for Los Angeles to be exhibited. They would never return to Europe. Even today the Alpine country mourns a loss that shocked Austrian culture, a consequence of its guilty past as a society.

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