Robert Lehman

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Robert Lehman
Robert Owen Lehman

September 29, 1891
DiedAugust 9, 1969(1969-08-09) (aged 77)
NationalityUnited States
Education Hotchkiss School (1908) [1]
Yale University (1913)
Known forCEO of Lehman Brothers
Spouse(s)Ruth S. Lamar Rumsey (divorced)
Ruth Leavitt Meeker
Lee Anz Lynn
Childrenwith Meeker:
--Robert Owen Lehman Jr.
Parent(s)Carrie Lauer Lehman
Philip Lehman

Robert Owen Lehman, Sr. (September 29, 1891 – August 9, 1969) was an American banker, head of Lehman Brothers for decades, and a notable race-horse owner, art collector, and philanthropist.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. was a global financial services firm. Before filing for bankruptcy in 2008, Lehman was the fourth-largest investment bank in the United States, doing business in investment banking, equity and fixed-income sales and trading, research, investment management, private equity, and private banking. Lehman was operational for 158 years from its founding in 1850 until 2008.


Life and career

Lehman was born to a Jewish family in New York City. He was the son of Philip Lehman (18611947) and grandson of Emanuel Lehman, a cofounder of Lehman Brothers investment bank, and Carrie Lauer (18651937). [2]

American Jews Ethnic group

American Jews, or Jewish Americans, are Americans who are Jews, whether by religion, ethnicity, or nationality. Today the Jewish community in the United States consists primarily of Ashkenazi Jews, who descend from diaspora Jewish populations of Central and Eastern Europe and comprise about 90-95% of the American Jewish population. Most American Ashkenazim are US-born, with a dwindling number of now-elderly earlier immigrants, as well as some more recent foreign-born immigrants.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Philip Lehman was an American investment banker.

He graduated from Hotchkiss School in 1908 [1] and was a 1913 graduate of Yale University and member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Phi chapter). When his father retired in 1925, "Bobbie" Lehman assumed the leadership role of the family-owned business. He took over the bank during a time when Lehman Brothers, like its competitors Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, was essentially a one-office firm.

Hotchkiss School Private, day and boarding school

The Hotchkiss School is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational, college preparatory boarding school in Lakeville, Connecticut, founded in 1891. The school offers a classical education with grades 9–12 and a postgraduate (PG) option, attracting students across the United States and 34 foreign countries.

Yale University Private research university in New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution. Yale consistently ranks among the top universities in the world.

Delta Kappa Epsilon North American collegiate fraternity

Delta Kappa Epsilon (ΔΚΕ), commonly known as DKE or Deke, is one of the oldest North American fraternities, with 56 active chapters across America and Canada. The fraternity was founded at Yale College in 1844 by 15 sophomores who were disaffected by the existing houses on campus. They established a fellowship "where the candidate most favored was he who combined in the most equal proportions the gentleman, the scholar, and the jolly good fellow."

While sound financial principles were essential, Robert Lehman was often quoted as saying that he "bet on people." One of those people he believed in was Juan Trippe who would build Pan American World Airways into an industry powerhouse. Robert Lehman understood that to maximize Lehman Brothers' growth he needed additional investor capital. While still maintaining voting control, he was the first to invite non-family members to become partners. He understood too that the right partners could expand the company's opportunities through interlocking directorships. As such, he sold an interest in Lehman Brothers to John D. Hertz who had sold his Yellow Cab Company and The Hertz Corporation for a fortune and who sat on the board of directors of General Motors. Under Robert Lehman, the bank concentrated on rapidly developing consumer industries with financing deals arranged in retailing, airlines, and the entertainment business notably with the Keith-Albee-Orpheum theatre group 1928 deal that sold the majority of its stock to Joseph P. Kennedy which led to the creation of RKO motion picture studios. And, when Lehman put together start-up financing for Paramount Pictures, John D. Hertz would be their connection on Paramount's board.

Juan Trippe American airline entrepreneur and pioneer

Juan Terry Trippe was an American commercial aviation pioneer, entrepreneur and the founder of Pan American World Airways, one of the iconic airlines of the 20th century. He was instrumental in numerous revolutionary advances in airline history, including the development and production of the Boeing 314 Clipper, which opened trans-Pacific airline travel, the Boeing Stratoliner which helped to pioneer cabin pressurization, the Boeing 707 which launched the Jet Age, and the Boeing 747 which introduced the era of jumbo jets. Trippe's signing of the 747 contract coincided with the 50th anniversary of Boeing, and he gave a speech where he explained his belief that these jets would be a force that would help bring about world peace.

Pan American World Airways 1927-1991 airline in the United States, former primary international carrier

Pan American World Airways, originally founded as Pan American Airways and commonly known as Pan Am, was the principal and largest international air carrier and unofficial flag carrier of the United States from 1927 until its collapse on December 4, 1991. It was founded in 1927 as a scheduled air mail and passenger service operating between Key West, Florida and Havana, Cuba. The airline is credited for many innovations that shaped the international airline industry, including the widespread use of jet aircraft, jumbo jets, and computerized reservation systems. It was also a founding member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global airline industry association.

John D. Hertz American businessman

John Daniel Hertz, Sr. was an American businessman, thoroughbred racehorse owner and breeder, and philanthropist.

Robert Lehman guided his company through the perils of the stock-market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression of the 1930s. Post-war, he grew the company substantially, expanding to Paris, France to meet the financial needs of his clients with international operations. In the process, he made himself one of the wealthiest people in the United States.

Wall Street Crash of 1929 stock market crash of 1929

The Wall Street Crash of 1929, also known as the Stock Market Crash 1929 or the Great Crash, was a major stock market crash that occurred in late October 1929. It started on October 24 and continued until October 29, 1929, when share prices on the New York Stock Exchange collapsed.

Great Depression 20th-century worldwide economic depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries, it started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zürich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018.

Thoroughbred horses

A lover of horses and a polo enthusiast, Robert Lehman played on a polo team with W. Averell Harriman, Jock Whitney and Tommy Hitchcock, Jr.. He was also a thoroughbred racehorse owner and breeder who had five horses compete in the Kentucky Derby. His horses, most trained by Ralph G. Kercheval, won numerous important stakes races including the Correction Handicap and the Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack, and the Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga Race Course.

Polo Equestrian team sport

Polo is a horseback mounted team sport. It is one of the world's oldest known team sports.

W. Averell Harriman American businessman, politician and diplomat

William Averell Harriman, better known as Averell Harriman, was an American Democratic politician, businessman, and diplomat. The son of railroad baron E. H. Harriman, he served as Secretary of Commerce under President Harry S. Truman and later as the 48th Governor of New York. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1952 and 1956, as well as a core member of the group of foreign policy elders known as "The Wise Men".

Thoroughbred Horse breed developed for racing

The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed. Thoroughbreds are considered "hot-blooded" horses that are known for their agility, speed, and spirit.

Art collection

For six decades he built upon an art collection begun by his father in 1911 and devoted a great deal of time and energy as a long-time member of the Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and finally becoming the first chairman of the board at the Metropolitan in the 1960s. [3] The importance of his collection became such that in 1957, nearly three hundred works were used for a solo exhibit at the Louvre Museum's Musée de l'Orangerie in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris. At that time, his was the only private American collection to be given that honor. In 1968 he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Yale University for having "enhanced the civic life, the culture, and the artistic development of our civilization."

After his death in 1969, the Robert Lehman Foundation donated close to 3,000 works of art to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Housed in the Robert Lehman Wing, which opened to the public in 1975, the museum has called it "one of the most extraordinary private art collections ever assembled in the United States". To this day, his Foundation remains active, operating the Robert Lehman Art Lecture Fund and sponsoring exhibitions in museums, both around the U.S. and worldwide. Other philanthropic activities include support for PBS television programming. The Robert Lehman Art Center at Brooks School in North Andover, Massachusetts, is named in his honor.

Personal life

Robert's first marriage—to Ruth S. (née Lamar) Rumsey (born 1902) in May 1929 in Montreal, Canada—ended in a divorce about 1931. Previous to her marriage to Robert, Ruth Lamar had been married to John Williams "Jack" Rumsey (1877-1960), who was owner of the Embassy Club (a nightclub in NYC) and president of the American Play Company (an old established literary agency located at 532 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan). [4] [5]

Robert's second marriage, which occurred on June 25, 1934 in Washington, D. C., was to Ruth "Kitty" (Leavitt) Meeker (1904–1984), daughter of William Homer Leavitt and Ruth Bryan Owen, and granddaughter of United States Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan. They had one son, cinematographer and director, Robert "Robin" Owen Lehman Jr. Meeker had three daughters from her first marriage to William Painter Meeker (1902–1983) whom she divorced in 1933: Ruth Meeker, Helen Meeker, and Kathrine Meeker. [6] Robert and Ruth Meeker's marriage also ended in divorce in 1951.

Robert's third marriage—to Lee "Elena" (Anz) Lynn (1919-2006)—occurred on July 10, 1952 in New York. [7]

He died August 9, 1969 and is interred in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York City.

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  1. 1 2 "Alumni Accomplishments". The Hotchkiss School. 2004. Archived from the original on March 10, 2015. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  2. The Frick Collection website: "Lehman, Philip, 1861-1947" retrieved April 2, 2012
  3. Lamont, Lansing. "Tom Hoving and the Met Builds", People magazine, Nov. 17, 1975. .
  4. New York Times: "Mrs. Ruth Rumsey Weds Robert Lehman; Quietly Married to New York Banker in Montreal--Couple Sail on the Olympic" May 1929
  5. Schenectady Gazette: Daughter of Ruth Bryan Owen marries Lehman cousin" June 26, 1934
  6. History and Families of Marion County Illinois: William Jennings Bryan retrieved April 2, 2012
  7. Biographical Dictionary of U.S. Business Leaders By John N. Ingham