Monday, February 25, 2008

The Guggenheim World War I Profits

(The following article about the Guggenheim Dynasty that has historically owned a portion of the Tribune Company’s Times-Mirror-Newsday division was written before the 2000 merger between the Tribune Company and Times-Mirror-Newsday. It first appeared in the March 6, 1991 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative weekly Downtown.)

In the early 20th century, the Guggenheim family also formed the American Congo Company to operate an African mine in the Congo and also bought the Chuquicamata copper mines in Chile. As a result, when World War I began the Guggenheim family controlled 75 percent to 80 percent of the world’s silver, copper and lead and could dictate the prices of all three metals. Between 1915 and 1918, the Guggenheim family’s mines and smelters operated 24 hours a day at full capacity and the family was accused of war profiteering by some U.S. newspapers and some members of the U.S. Congress. Due to its World War I profits, the Guggenheim family became one of the five wealthiest families in the United States by the early 1920s.

During the Roaring Twenties, the Guggenheim family decided to relinquish its control over ASARCO and also to sell its Chilean copper mines to the Anaconda Company for $70 million. The 1923 sale of the Chuquicamata Chilean mines by the Guggenheim family represented, at the time, the largest-ever private sale of mining property.

(Downtown 3/6/91)

Next: The Guggenheim Effect On The Earth

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