Mother, Estee Lauder (d. 2004), sold skin cream concocted by chemist uncle. Emphasized personal customer attention, free gifts. Operation became cosmetics giant; today family's 70% stake worth more than $6 billion. Labels include Clinique, Aveda, Bobbi Brown, La Mer. Shares up 28% in past 12 months. Younger brother owns stakes in Central European Media Enterprises, Israeli TV station. Last year elected President of World Jewish Congress. Both brothers own large art collections; Ronald paid $135 million for 1907 Klimt portrait 2006.
Throughout his business career, Lauder’s “business model” has always rested on two main foundations: the large amount of money that he inherited from his parents (his mother was the cosmetics queen Estée Lauder), and the political connections he earned himself over the years, including close relations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. These two assets have been the backbone of his business in Israel, and all over the world.
Lauder has served as the president of the World Jewish Congress for the eight years. He served as United States Ambassador to Austria in the mid-1980s under President Ronald Reagan; in the U.S. Department of Defense as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO policy; ran for mayor of New York in the Republican primary in 1989, losing to Rudy Giuliani; and was asked by Netanyahu to serve as a negotiator with the Syrians on Israel’s behalf starting in 1998.more » « less