Nubar Gulbenkian Biography

Nubar Sarkis Gulbenkian (1896–1972) was an Armenian business magnate and socialite born in the Ottoman empire.

Early years

The son of Calouste Gulbenkian, he was born on the Bosporus but taken out of the country at an early age. Taken by his father to England, he was educated at Harrow School, Trinity College, Cambridge and in Germany. As a consequence of his educational background Gulbenkian saw himself as British and strove to live up to the model of the English gentleman. As such, during World War II he undertook some amateur sabotage in Vichy France on behalf of the United Kingdom. Despite this he was also attached to the Iranian Embassy in London in an honorary role (as he held Iranian citizenship) whilst he regained his Turkish citizenship in 1965. This however had helped him during the war as his neutral passport allowed him to cross between France and Spain with little trouble and thus gain access to British intelligence in Gibraltar.

Business

Gulbenkian began as an unpaid worker for his father, who was as noted for his miserly tendencies as his son would be for his spending, but later sued his father for $10 million, bizarrely after a refusal by the company to allow him $4.50 for a lunch of chicken in tarragon jelly. Ultimately the incident contributed to Calouste Gulbenkian's decision to leave $420 million of his fortune to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Portugal.

Although he ultimately inherited $2.5 million from his father, as well as more in a settlement from the Foundation, Gulbenkian also became independently wealthy through his own oil dealings. He was initially the protégé of Henri Deterding at Royal Dutch Shell but later made an independent fortune which allowed him to live a highly extravagant lifestyle.