Posted 1 March 2024


Lord Rothschild Obituary

OM, GBE, CVO (1936 - 2024)

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Lord (Jacob) Rothschild OM, GBE, CVO (born 29 April 1936), the businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist and cultural leader, who made a profound difference to many areas of British life.

Jacob Rothschild started his career in the family bank NM Rothschild & Sons Limited in 1963, later leaving to take control of Rothschild Investment Trust (now RIT Capital Partners Plc.) which became one of the largest quoted investment trusts on the London Stock exchange. In 1980 he co-founded J Rothschild Assurance group (now St James Place plc) with Sir Mark Weinberg. He also founded Windmill Hill Asset Management (WHAM) to manage his family’s philanthropic portfolio and remained active until his passing in making investments, spotting talent and backing new ventures. In addition to businesses founded, he served as Deputy Chairman of BskyB Television and as a director of RHJ International (now known as BHF Kleinwort Benson Group) until 2008. He was a member of the Council for the Duchy of Cornwall for the (then) Prince of Wales and a member of the International Advisory Board of The Blackstone Group.

In the cultural sector, he led, amongst other national institutions, the National Gallery and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. He supported many causes, some close to his home in Buckinghamshire, others as far afield as Israel, Albania, Greece and the United States.  He was a trustee of the State Hermitage Museum of Petersburg and a trustee of the Qatar Museums Authorities. He was pivotal in the restoration of Somerset House, London and helped secure the public display of the Gilbert Collection, ensuring the future status of the Courtauld Institute of Art. He led the refurbishment of Spencer House in St. James’s, one of the finest surviving 18th century townhouses in London. He was a Member of the UK Main Honours Board (retired 2008); Chairman of the Honours Committee for Arts and Media (retired 2008); Trustee of the Edmond J Safra Foundation (retired 2010); a Member of the Committee of the Henry J Kravis Prize for Creative Philanthropy (retired 2010) and in 2014 received the J Paul Getty Medal for “extraordinary achievement in the fields of museology, art historical research, philanthropy, conservation and conservation science”.

Jacob Rothschild was the Chairman of Yad Hanadiv, the family’s charitable foundation set up for the benefit of all inhabitants of Israel, from 1989 to 2018. He was also President of The Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe and Patron and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Rothschild Foundation, the family’s charitable foundation supporting arts, heritage, the environment and social welfare in the UK.

His overarching philanthropic commitment was to Waddesdon Manor and to the Waddesdon Estate where he was actively involved in improving the environment through better farming practices and broader philanthropic activities. Under his ownership, there was a concerted effort to farm regeneratively and a significant part of the Rothschild Foundation’s grant making was directed to other independent organisations seeking to find solutions to climate issues. At Waddesdon, having assumed the management on behalf of the National Trust from his cousin Dorothy de Rothschild in 1988, he initiated a major programme of restoration and conservation of the building, gardens and the collections. Over the following three decades he led a renaissance of the property, increasing public access through its exhibitions, events, learning, acquisitions and contemporary art commissioning programmes, and overseeing an increase in visitor numbers to over 300,000 annually.

He was married for more than fifty years to Serena (nee Dunn 1936-2019) with whom he had four children, Hannah, Beth, Emily and Nat and many grandchildren.

Messages of condolence are welcomed and can be sent to They will all be appreciated and read, however, please understand that it may not be possible to respond to you personally at this time.