Benjamin Guggenheim

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Benjamin Guggenheim
Born(1865-10-26)October 26, 1865
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
DiedApril 15, 1912(1912-04-15) (aged 46)
Atlantic Ocean, aboard the RMS Titanic
Cause of death Sinking of the RMS Titanic
CitizenshipAmerican and German
Alma mater Peirce School of Business
Spouse(s)Florette Seligman (1894-1912) (his death)
ChildrenBenita Rosalind Guggenheim
Peggy Guggenheim
Barbara Hazel Guggenheim
Parent(s) Meyer Guggenheim
Barbara Myers

Benjamin "Ben" Guggenheim (October 26, 1865 – April 15, 1912) was an American businessman. He died aboard RMS Titanic when the ship sank in the North Atlantic Ocean. His body was never recovered. [1]

RMS <i>Titanic</i> British transatlantic passenger liner, launched and foundered in 1912

RMS Titanic was a British passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912, after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. Of the estimated 2,224 passengers and crew aboard, more than 1,500 died, making it one of modern history's deadliest commercial marine disasters during peacetime. RMS Titanic was the largest ship afloat at the time she entered service and was the second of three Olympic-class ocean liners operated by the White Star Line. She was built by the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. Thomas Andrews, chief naval architect of the shipyard at the time, died in the disaster.


Early life

Benjamin Guggenheim was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US, the fifth of seven sons of the wealthy mining magnate Meyer Guggenheim (1828–1905) and Barbara Myers (1834–1900), both originally from Lengnau, Aargau, Switzerland. [2] [3] He attended the Peirce School of Business (now Peirce College), then one of the most prominent business schools in the country. Guggenheim was Jewish. [4] In 1894, he married Florette Seligman (1870–1937), [5] daughter of James Seligman, a senior partner in the firm J. & W. Seligman & Co. and Rosa Seligman née Content. Together, they had three daughters: Benita Rosalind Guggenheim (1895–1927), Marguerite "Peggy" Guggenheim (1898–1979) and Barbara Hazel Guggenheim (1903–1995).

Philadelphia Largest city in Pennsylvania, United States

Philadelphia, sometimes known colloquially as Philly, is the largest city in the U.S. state and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the sixth-most populous U.S. city, with a 2017 census-estimated population of 1,580,863. Since 1854, the city has been coterminous with Philadelphia County, the most populous county in Pennsylvania and the urban core of the eighth-largest U.S. metropolitan statistical area, with over 6 million residents as of 2017. Philadelphia is also the economic and cultural anchor of the greater Delaware Valley, located along the lower Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, within the Northeast megalopolis. The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.

Meyer Guggenheim American businessperson

Meyer Guggenheim was the patriarch of what became known as the Guggenheim family.

Lengnau, Aargau Place in Aargau, Switzerland

Lengnau is a municipality in the district of Zurzach in the canton of Aargau in Switzerland.

Guggenheim inherited a great deal of money from his father. Due to business concerns, he grew distant from his wife and was frequently away from their New York City home. He maintained an apartment in Paris, France. [6]

Aboard the Titanic

Guggenheim boarded the RMS Titanic and was accompanied by his mistress, a French singer named Léontine Aubart (1887–1964); his valet, Victor Giglio (1888–1912); his chauffeur, René Pernot (1872–1912); and Madame Aubart's maid, Emma Sägesser (1887–1964). His ticket was number 17593 and cost £79 4s (other sources give the price as £56 18s 7d). He and Giglio occupied stateroom cabin B82 while Aubart and Sägesser occupied cabin B35. Pernot occupied an unknown cabin in second class. [1]

Guggenheim and Giglio slept through the Titanic's encounter with the iceberg only to be awakened just after midnight ship's time by Aubart and Sägesser, who had felt the collision. Sägesser later quoted Giglio as saying, "Never mind, icebergs! What is an iceberg?"[ citation needed ] Guggenheim was persuaded to awaken and dress; Bedroom Steward Henry Samuel Etches helped him on with a lifebelt and a heavy sweater before sending him, Giglio, and the two ladies up to the Boat Deck. [1]

As Aubart and Sägesser reluctantly entered Lifeboat No. 9, Guggenheim spoke to the maid in German, saying, "We will soon see each other again! It's just a repair. Tomorrow the Titanic will go on again." Realizing that the situation was much more serious than he had implied, as well as realizing he was not going to be rescued, he then returned to his cabin with Giglio and the two men changed into evening wear. [1] Titanic survivor Rose Amelie Icard wrote in a letter, "The millionaire Benjamin Guggenheim after having helped the rescue of women and children got dressed, a rose at his buttonhole, to die." [7] [8] [9] The two were seen heading into the Grand Staircase, closing the door behind them. He was heard to remark, "We've dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen." [1] He also gave Etches, who survived the sinking, a message, which Etches wrote down: "If anything should happen to me, tell my wife in New York that I've done my best in doing my duty." [1] Etches reported that "shortly after the last few boats were lowered and I was ordered by the deck officer to man an oar, I waved good-bye to Mr. Guggenheim, and that was the last I saw of him and [Giglio]." [1] Guggenheim and Giglio were last seen seated in deck chairs in the foyer of the Grand Staircase sipping brandy and smoking cigars, ready to accept their fate without fear or hesitation.[ citation needed ] Both men went down with the ship. Their bodies, if recovered, were never identified. Guggenheim's chauffeur, Pernot, was also lost in the disaster.


Benjamin Guggenheim was one of the most prominent American victims of the disaster. As such, he has been portrayed in numerous films, television series and a Broadway show depicting the sinking.

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Guggenheim, Dying, Sent Wife Message". The New York Times . April 20, 1912. Retrieved April 17, 2012. Efforts to find the body of Benjamin Guggenheim, who was the fifth of the seven Guggenheim brothers, as well as the bodies of other victims, will be made by the six surviving brothers.
  2. Barbara Myers Guggenheim
  4. Guggenheim-Seligman : New York Times (1894) – October 25, 1894
  5. "Benjamin Guggenheim". Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  6. Poppy Danby (21 March 2014). "Titanic letter reveals new first-hand account of disaster". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  7. "Titanic Letters Translated by email Reddit, Reveal Harrowing New Perspective on the Tragedy". The Huffington Post. 21 March 2014. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  8. md28usmc (21 March 2014). "REQUEST. I own the only set of letters written by Rose Amélie Icard (longest French living Titanic survivor) describing a first hand account of what happened as the Titanic sank. It's written in French and I would love to have it translated so I could have them framed". Reddit. Retrieved 24 September 2016.