Last year the magazines expoloded withflurry after the hotel heiress Nicky Hilton got married. The wedding was lavish as expected, with anumber of high profile socialites in attendance. However the real point of interest was the groom. James Rothschild, grandson of the 3rdBaron Rothschild.
The Rothschild name is recognisable theworld over as a banking dynasty which has since spread to other interests,including wine. At one point they arebelieved to have been in control of 50 trillion dollars- half the world’s weathat the time. However the real interestthat lies behind this name are the mysteries. A family run business is able tokeep secrets close guarded and so the full extent of their wealth might neverbe uncovered.
This impressive and elusice fortuneoriginated with Mayer Amschel Rothschild in town of Frankfurt in the 16thcentury. Mayer had the foresight to sendeach of his five sons to a different international hub, in order to spreadtheir banking empire. Soon, Vienna,Paris, Naples, Frankfurt and London were very well aware of the power that thename ‘Rothschild’ held.
The business grew over the next centuries,even expanding to the USA. Howeverdespite overcoming the Franco-Prussian war and World War I, the Austrian andFrench branches of the family were badly persecuted during World War II. Although all family members managed toescape, including Louis, who was held in Vienna at ransom, their assets wereplundered. Hitler had set his sights onthe Rothschild art collection long before the war, and seized everything forhis Fuhrermuseum in Linz. Further tothis the French vineyards Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Chateau MoutonRothschild were both seized and converted into agricultural vocationalschools. During this occupations ancientvintages were ransacked, which was a huge blow to the wineries.
▲ Waddesdon Manor
The name Rothschild is today as synonomouswith wine as it is with banking, philanthrophy and art. But despite their international notoriety, the air of luxurious mystery continues to shroud this dynasty, unlikely ever tobe illuminated.