May 21, 1898 - December 10, 1990
Armand Hammer was an American businessman, an international figure and the head of the Occidental Petroleum.
Armand Hammer – "official friend of the USSR"
Armand was born in New York, into the family of Julius Hammer and Rosa Lipshitz. Julius came to America from Odessa in 1875, after his parents, wealthy ship builders, had gone bankrupt. He created a network of his own drug stores and practiced medicine, but was forced to give it up after a conviction.
According to an urban legend, during a flu epidemic Armand, who had graduated from the school of medicine of the Columbia University, performed an abortion on a patient who was having pneumonia. The patient died, and Armand's father took all the blame, saving the future of his son and going to jail for two and a half years. Armand, though, never practiced medicine again...
Armand befriended Ludwig Martense, a Soviet agent in America, and in 1921 visited Russia, meeting Lenin.
Soon Hammer found himself in the inner circle of businessmen close to the Soviet government, and met many officials, including Gorbachev, representing American companies.
In 1921 his Allied Drug and Chemical Corporation made a deal with Soviet Russia, trading 1 million bushels of American grain for furs, caviar and valuables confiscated by the Bolsheviks - the deal which would give Hammer the status of an "official friend" of the USSR.
During his life in the USSR (almost a decade, from the early 20s until the early 30s), Hammer would buy out antiques, paintings and sculptures, including the Faberge eggs that he bought basically for peanuts.
Later, after returning to America, he was convicted for illegal sponsorship of Richard Nixon's campaign, but was pardoned by president Bush.
Nevertheless, his charity work must be viewed as something exceptionally wholesome: with Hammer's assistance, the Center for international trade in Moscow, and his collection became the basis of the Los Angeles Hammer Museum (including the most valuable exhibit, the Lester Codex, written by Leonardo DaVinci, which would be sold to Bill Gates in 1994 for $30 million).
Notably, Hammer was awarded the National medal of arts, was a professor emeritus of 25 universities, and was even nominated for the Nobel peace prize, losing to Dalai-Lama!
In 1927 he married Olga Van Root, who brought him two children. The children and grandchildren of Armand, though, never saw the rich inheritance - after the death of Armand Hammer in 1990, all they got was his debts, to the total amount of $500,000,000!
Blumay, Carl (with Henry Edwards), Dark Side of Power: The Real Armand Hammer
Epstein, Edward Jay, The Secret History of Armand Hammer
Weinberg Steve, Armand Hammer. The Untold Story