Henry Arnhold, patriarch of a storied banking family, dies at 96

NEW YORK — Henry Arnhold, the last member of a generation of prominent German Jewish bankers who escaped Nazi persecution, re-established their family business in the New World, and later helped rebuild Dresden, Germany, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, died Aug. 23 at his home in Manhattan. He was 96.

Henry Arnhold was the patriarch of the Arnhold family, which ran a boutique investment bank and brokerage firm and later an investment management overseeing about $100 billion in assets.

He was also a philanthropist who funded scholarships at the New School, underwrote programs for PBS, and gave tens of millions of dollars each year to help refugees, the environment, and the arts.


Mr. Arnhold’s governing principle, according to his family and close friends, was to seek companionship and joy — through good food, tennis, and art — while eschewing any dark view of humanity that might accompany his status as a Holocaust survivor. He did so, they said, despite having watched his father die under extreme stress in Nazi Germany and, soon after, losing his home and friends in Dresden.

Mr. Arnhold was chairman of the Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder bank and its successor businesses from 1960 to 2015, though he stepped away from active management in 1994. He later focused on managing specific client portfolios.

“He was a giant,” actor Harrison Ford said Friday in an e-mail to Mr. Arnhold’s nephew Peter Seligmann. Ford served with Mr. Arnhold on the board of Seligmann’s advocacy group Conservation International.

A native of Dresden, Heinrich-Hartmut Richard Gustav Arnhold grew up in a home that served as a salon attracting such famous figures in the arts and sciences as Albert Einstein and Wassily Kandinsky.

Arnhold’s father helped run Gebruder Arnhold, a bank the family founded in 1864. It lent money to industries that other, larger institutions had overlooked. It also was one of the largest stakeholders in porcelain producers around Dresden.


After World War II, the German government began making reparations to Jews whose possessions had been taken by the Nazis. The Arnholds managed to recover some assets, much of which Mr. Arnhold donated to Dresdeners.

“He wanted to recapture what was stolen and return it for the well-being of the community,” Seligmann said.

The Arnholds gave money to fix the public pool in Dresden. He paid to rebuild a church and a synagogue and became a patron of the city’s Palucca School of Dance, where his sister Esther Arnhold Seligmann had studied before the war. He also started an exchange program that brought students in Dresden to the New School.