Maurice Ephrussi (1849-1916)
Maurice Ephrussi, Racehorse Owner & Banker, of Ephrussi & Co., Paris
He was born at Odessa in what was then part of the Russian Empire and is now Ukraine. His father was a Jewish grain merchant who founded the bank of Ephrussi & Co., and by 1860 the Ephrussi family were the largest exporters of wheat in the world. Maurice and his brother, Michel, established a branch of the family bank in Paris. They quickly became involved in thoroughbred horse-racing and breeding, and to that purpose Maurice bought the Château de Reux in Calvados, Normandy. His stables were well-known and his horses won some of the most prestigious prizes in England and France. In 1883, he married Beatrice de Rothschild and they lived between L'Hotel Ephrussi in Paris, the Chateau de Reux in Normandy and their villa in Monte Carlo, called the "Rose de France". Maurice had at some point contracted a sexually transmitted disease that he passed to Beatrice, preventing her from having children. To make matters worse, he was a gambler and despite his initial wealth, by 1904 his debts amounted to some $2.5 million. At that point, the Rothschild family took him to court and they were legally separated. In the following year, his wife built the now famous Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild on the French Riviera. He died at the Chateau de Reux.
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 11/08/2020 and last updated on 13/08/2020.