Amschel Rothschild, the man many believed would be the prestigious Rothschild Bank’s next leader, hanged himself in a Paris luxury hotel, a newspaper reported Thursday.
Rothschild’s body was found by a cleaning lady Monday in his room at the Hotel Bristol, not far from the presidential Elysee Palace, the Paris daily Le Parisien said. Rothschild, 41, was widely expected to take over the British merchant bank N.M. Rothschild and Sons.
Police officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the paper the banker hanged himself. Both the bank and the Rothschild family refused to comment on the death.
Rothschild was appointed chief executive of Rothschild Asset Management in 1990, later becoming its chairman. The moves led to speculation that he was being prepared to succeed his cousin Sir Evelyn Rothschild as chairman of the family bank.
The Rothschild family gained prominence by financing such projects as the construction of European railroads and the British military campaign that led to the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815.
Rothschild is survived by his wife, Anita Guinness, a son, and two daughters.
Funeral arrangements were not announced but were expected to be private.
Amschel Rothschild, the man who many people believed was in line to lead the Rothschild family’s legendary banking dynasty, committed suicide this week, the company said today.
N. M. Rothschild & Sons, the privately held family bank, confirmed that the death was a suicide after two French newspapers reported that a chambermaid had found him hanged in his room at the Bristol Hotel in Paris on Monday. But relatives of the 41-year-old Mr. Rothschild refused to give any details of his death, which was originally reported as having resulted from a heart attack.
Bankers in the City of London, the financial center where the bank is based, speculated only that he might have been unhappy about losses suffered at Rothschild Asset Management Ltd., the division he headed.
Mr. Rothschild oversaw something of a financial recovery at Rothschild Asset Management, but the bank as a whole has had static profit, especially when compared with those of another big, independent British investment bank, Schroders.
Indeed before his death, the rumor mill in the City of London was casting doubt on Amschel Rothschild’s prospects of inheriting the mantle of the banking empire. Some people said he had been depressed about the deaths of his parents and a split with his half-brother, Lord Rothschild, and his cousin Sir Evelyn Rothschild.
Amschel’s grandfather Charles committed suicide in 1923 while suffering from encephalitis, a brain illness.
“One has to realize the kind of pressure that someone who belongs to a family with that much money and that much in the public eye comes under,” said Derek Wilson, author of “Rothschild: A Story of Wealth and Power.”
“Some members thrive on it, and others don’t. Some want to be quiet people, but as a Rothschild you can never be that.”
Amschel Rothschild graduated from City University of London in 1976. Before joining the family business, he tried his hand for a time on the business side of journalism, working as circulation manager for a literary magazine, New Review, which is now defunct.
Mr. Rothschild, who is a member of the sixth generation of the family, entered the family business in 1988, rising to chairman of Rothschild Asset Management in 1990. Many experts said that put him in line to succeed Sir Evelyn, who is 64, as chairman of the entire bank.
Even then, people in London’s financial district said they thought that he was happier on his farm in Suffolk and while dabbling in auto racing and stunt-flying in his favorite biplane.
Financial experts in the City of London said that although the death of Amschel Rothschild would raise questions over succession, they did not believe that it would affect the performance of the Rothschild business.
The most likely candidate to succeed Sir Evelyn now appears to be a French cousin, David Rothschild, though there is some question as to whether the City’s British banking establishment would react well to working with a member of the French branch of the family.
Amschel’s brother, Lionel, is said to be a “gentleman farmer” who is not interested in being part of the banking business.
Sir Evelyn’s oldest son is considered too young for the job and is reported to have shown little interest in finance.