A man of many interests, Ronald Lauder is heir to the cosmetics empire Estee Lauder Companies. He fell in love with the art of Austria when serving as US ambassador in that country in the 1980s, and began collecting Austrian and German art while pursuing various political ambitions. (He made a bid to become mayor of New York City in 1989 and drafted the optimistic “Treaty of Peace Between Israel and Syria” in the 90s). In 2001, Lauder opened the tiny, gorgeous Neue (rhymes with Goya) Galerie on Fifth Avenue’s Museum Mile to share his private art collection with the public.
Lauder’s remarkable Galerie includes recovered “lost” art from the Nazi period, including the astonishing “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, which he bought for $135 million in 2006 and gave as a gift to the Neue. When it first arrived in the US, the price to see it was $50. Mr. Lauder is also founder and president of the Lauder Business School in Vienna, Austria. His estimated net worth is $3.3 billion.