Sir Charles Clore, one of the richest men in Great Britain and a major benefactor to many Israeli and local Jewish causes, died here last Thursday at the age of 74. Frequently referred to as the “man with the golden touch,” his personal fortune was estimated to vary between $70 million to $120 million.
Sir Charles – knighted in 1971 in recognition for his philanthropic activities – was born in London’s East End. His father left Czarist Russia in the early 1900s during a period of frenzied anti-Semitism there and became a successful textile merchant here. Sir Charles himself began making his mark as a businessman as soon as he left school and by the time he died he was the director of more than 100 companies.
It is almost impossible to walk down any shopping center in Britain without passing a store owned by one of his companies. Nearly all the major shoe stores, for example, were part of his empire, as were the famous Oxford Street store of Selfridges and the exclusive West End jewelry shop Moppin and Webb.
One of Sir Charles’ earliest business “coups” was buying the film rights of the world heavyweight title fight between Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey. But it was in the world of real estate and city takeover bids that he really mode his name and fortune and earned him the title of the “man with the golden touch.”
Through his Sears Holdings Ltd. and other enterprises, Sir Charles also controlled firms engaged in shipbuilding and steel manufacturing, the making of laundry equipment, air conditioners and textile machinery, and organizations with widespread real estate holdings, including a major interest in the Pan Am Building in New York City.
Sir Charles was a proud Jew and a devoted supporter of Israel. A generous donor to the Jewish State, it is believed that at the time of the Six-Day War he contributed some $2.5 million. But despite his wealth, his personal life was not always happy. His marriage was dissolved in 1957 and when his daughter married, he did not attend the wedding because her husband was not Jewish.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.