The Reichmanns: Family, Faith, Fortune, and the Empire of Olympia & York

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Times Books, 1997 - Biography & Autobiography - 810 pages
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Beginning in eighteenth-century rural Hungary, The Reichmanns illuminates the origins of the family and of Jewish ultra-Orthodoxy. Bianco paints a vivid picture of this lost world of small Jewish villages and the entrepreneurial young men who built the initial Reichmann wealth. Unlike many other Jews - and unlike the Rothschilds, Warburgs, and other great Jewish families - the Reichmanns resisted assimilation, and they never modified their strict adherence to Jewish law. Some of the family relocated to Austria, and Bianco gives us a vibrant portrait of the Vienna of Freud's time, a bustling urban center that at first welcomed the Reichmanns but whose increasing anti-Semitism eventually forced them out. Fleeing the Nazis, the Reichmanns landed in Paris, and when it fell, they made a daring escape to North Africa. They settled in Tangier, the free-for-all International Zone characterized primarily by its utter absence of commercial restraints. There, among the Nazi agents and Allied spies, the modern family's patriarch, Samuel Reichmann, built a fortune as a currency trader. After Tangier, the family emigrated to Canada, where Samuel and Renee's sons built their own empire. From their first small office buildings on the outskirts of Toronto to New York skyscrapers and their stunning triumph in building the World Financial Center, Olympia & York seemed infallible. Then came Canary Wharf, a property development project on London's East End. Paul risked everything on Canary Wharf, and when the project finally imploded, the family had lost ten billion dollars. The Reichmanns, who had risen so far over the centuries, were ruined.

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