Baron Guy de Rothschild, who managed his family’s French banking empire and saw it taken over first during the Nazi occupation and then by a Socialist government 40 years later, has died. He was 98.
Rothschild, also known for his family’s renowned wines and his thoroughbred racehorses, died Tuesday in Paris, his family said in an announcement in Le Figaro daily on Thursday. The cause of death was not given.
Guy de Rothschild was born May 21, 1909, in Paris’ upscale 8th district, or arrondissement, into the House of Rothschild, whose complex family tree included financiers of European royalty and some of France’s most prominent names.
During the Nazi occupation, the collaborationist French government stripped his family of its French nationality — and its assets — because they were Jewish. Rothschild fled to the United States and later to London, where he joined Gen. Charles de Gaulle’s resistance force.
After the war, Rothschild rebuilt his family’s financial empire, and went on to chair de Rothschild Freres bank from 1967 until 1979.
In 1981, the bank switched to government hands through nationalization under Socialist President Francois Mitterrand.
Rothschild left France and briefly moved to New York, after writing an editorial in Le Monde accusing the Socialists of falling victim to French anti-Semitism.
Later, his son David followed his father’s example and began reconstructing the family banking network, which in 1987 became Rothschild & Cie Bank.
Guy de Rothschild founded and presided over the United Jewish Welfare Fund, France’s primary Jewish philanthropic agency, from 1950 to 1982.
He and his second wife, Marie-Helene, were stars of France’s elite social scene. She died in 1990.
In addition to David, survivors include son Edouard. A funeral service was planned in Paris’ main synagogue for June 21.