Financier Lord Jacob Rothschild, renowned for his arts philanthropy, dies at age of 87

Lord Jacob Rothschild (York Liberman/PA Wire)
Lord Jacob Rothschild (York Liberman/PA Wire)

Financier and member of the Rothschild banking family, Lord Jacob Rothschild, has died at the age of 87, his family has announced.

The British peer started his career in the family bank, NM Rothschild & Sons, in 1963, before going on to take control of Rothschild Investment Trust and later co-founding the then J Rothschild Assurance Group, now St James's Place, with Sir Mark Weinberg in 1980.

Lord Rothschild's family have an estimated fortune of around £825 million, according to last year's Sunday Times Rich List, and give away a reported £66 million to Jewish causes, education and art.

In a statement to the PA news agency, the family said: "Our father Jacob was a towering presence in many people's lives, a superbly accomplished financier, a champion of the arts and culture, a devoted public servant, a passionate supporter of charitable causes in Israel and Jewish culture, a keen environmentalist and much-loved friend, father and grandfather.

"He will be buried in accordance with Jewish custom in a small family ceremony and there will be a memorial at a later date to celebrate his life."

Born in Berkshire, Lord Rothschild was educated at Eton College and then went on to study history at Christ Church college, Oxford University.

He was chairman of RIT Capital Partners - one of the largest investment trusts quoted on the London Stock Exchange - until 2019, but also held roles including deputy chairman at the then BSkyB Television, director of RHJ International, now known as BHF Kleinwort Benson Group, and was a member of the council for the Duchy of Cornwall for the then Prince of Wales.

In the cultural sector, he was chairman of trustees at The National Gallery and chairman of The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

A renowned patron to the arts, he also sat for numerous portraits, including by Lucian Freud and David Hockney.

He also founded Windmill Hill Asset Management to manage the family's philanthropic portfolio and was chairman of the trustees for The Rothschild Foundation charity.

One of his biggest philanthropic commitments was to Waddesdon Manor and the Waddesdon estate in Buckinghamshire, having taken over the management on behalf of the National Trust from his cousin Dorothy de Rothschild in 1988.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, the Rothschild Foundation and Waddesdon Manor said they were "deeply saddened to announce the death of Lord Rothschild, businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist and cultural leader".

"He will be greatly missed by his family, his colleagues and his many friends," they added.

The Rothschild Foundation confirmed Lord Rothschild's daughter Hannah would succeed him as chair of the charity.

The foundation added: "Jacob Rothschild was an extraordinary person and his loss will be felt by many.

"The family is committed to continuing his legacy and the foundation which he loved and endowed."

He was married for more than 50 years to Serena, who died in 2019 and with whom he had four children - Hannah, Beth, Emily and Nat - and many grandchildren.