Anton Rupert

Businessman, philanthropist, and conservationist

Anton Rupert

A founding member of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and founding patron of the Peace Parks Foundation, Anton Rupert's various endowments have secured his legacy in African conservation (along with the promotion of education, art, music and the preservation of historical buildings).

Rupert was a founding member of the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and it was in his role as the president of the organisation's South African branch that he took a lead in the creation of trans-frontier parks (also known as trans-frontier conservation areas (TFCAs) or "Peace Parks"), such as the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area. He also established The 1001: A Nature Trust in 1970, a financial endowment to fund the organisation.

With an initial grant of 1.2 million Rand (US$260,000) from the Rupert Nature Foundation, the Peace Parks Foundation was established on 1 February 1997 to facilitate the establishment of TFCAs in southern Africa. Nelson Mandela, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and Anton Rupert were the founding patrons of the Peace Parks Foundation. In 2000, the Cape Tercentenary Foundation awarded him the Molteno Medal for lifetime services to cultural and nature conservation.

After dropping out of medical school due to a lack of funds, Rupert earned a chemistry degree at the University of Pretoria, where he also lectured for a short while. Subsequently, he started a dry-cleaning business.

Some time later, with an initial investment of GBP 10 and together with two fellow investors, he started manufacturing cigarettes in his garage, which he eventually built into the tobacco and industrial conglomerate Rembrandt Group, overseeing its transition to the industrial and luxury branded goods sectors, with Rembrandt eventually splitting into Remgro (an investment company with financial, mining and industrial interests) and Richemont (a Swiss-based luxury goods group). Currently, this business empire encompasses hundreds of companies located in 35 countries on six continents, with combined yearly net sales in the region of US$10 billion.


Rupert established the tobacco company "Voorbrand" in the 1940s. He soon renamed it Rembrandt Ltd., whose overseas tobacco interests were consolidated into Rothmans in 1972.

In 1988, the Rembrandt group founded the Swiss luxury goods company, Richemont, which in turn acquired Rembrandt's shares in Rothmans. Richemont also owns such luxury brands as Cartier (jewellery); Alfred Dunhill and Sulka (designer clothing); Seeger (leather bags); Piaget, Baume & Mercier and Vacheron Constantin (Swiss watches) and Montblanc (writing instruments).

In 1995, Rembrandt and Richemont consolidated their respective tobacco interests into Rothmans International, which was at the time the world's fourth largest cigarette manufacturer.

In 1999, Rothmans International merged with British American Tobacco (BAT), the world's second largest cigarette producer. Remgro held 10% and Richemont held 18.6% of BAT before unbundling.

Rupert's eldest son, Johann Rupert, is now the CEO of Richemont and chairman of Remgro.

The Rupert family is also deeply involved in the South African wine and liquor industry, owning the L'Ormarins and La Motte wine estates and having a stake in Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons, the wine-making partnership between the Rupert and Rothschild families (at the time of his death due to a car crash in 2001, Rupert's youngest son, Anthonij,[4] was head of Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons.)

The Ruperts also partially control two of South Africa's largest wine merchant houses, Stellenbosch Farmers' Winery (SFW) and Distillers Corporation, who together produce one of every six bottles of wine in South Africa and nearly eighty percent of the country's brandy. These two companies have merged to form Distell Group Limited.

Among other interests, the Rupert Group also owns South Africa's second-largest chain of private hospitals, the Medi-Clinic Corporation, with 5,500 beds.

According to his biography, Rupert's business career spanned over sixty years. He started his global empire with a personal investment of just £10 in 1941 becoming named on the Forbes list of 500 wealthiest families worldwide. At the time of his death his assets were estimated at $1.7 billion.


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Anton Edward Rupert - SA History Online.

Statement by Dr Anton Rupert, Chairman and Founder of Peace Parks Foundation - December 2005


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