Otto Hermann Kahn

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Otto Hermann Kahn

Otto Hermann Kahn (February 21, 1867 - March 29, 1934) was a banker, collector, philanthropist and patron of the arts.

Born and raised in Mannheim, Germany, Kahn started working for the Berliner Deutsche Bank and, in 1888, was sent to their London office. He became a naturalized British citizen but in 1893 went to the United States, where he spent the rest of his life. In 1897 he joined the banking firm of Kuhn, Loeb & Company in New York City. In 1917 Kahn gave up his British citizenship.

An extremely wealthy financier, Kahn supported artists such as Hart Crane, George Gershwin and Arturo Toscanini. In 1919 Kahn, who had acquired a 443 acre (1.8 km²) estate on Long Island, had Oheka Castle built as its centrepiece. Oheka (from Otto Hermann Kahn) was designed as the second largest private residence in the United States (126 rooms) by Delano & Aldrich of New York City; its landscaping was done by Frederick Law Olmsted of Brookline, Massachusetts (who had also designed Central Park in New York City and the Emerald Necklace of parks around Boston).

His son, Roger Wolfe Kahn, was a popular jazz musician and band leader of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Otto Kahn's granddaughter is wife of the present 13th Earl of Airlie, a former Royal courtier and a Scottish peer (whose younger brother Rt Hon. Sir Angus Ogilvy was married to Princess Alexandra of Kent, a member of the British Royal Family).

Selected books by Kahn

  • Art and the People
  • The Myth of American Imperialism
  • Of Many Things (1926) (a compilation of speeches and writings)

Quote

"The deadliest foe of democracy is not autocracy but liberty frenzied. Liberty is not foolproof. For its beneficent working it demands self-restraint, a sane and clear recognition of the practical and attainable, and of the fact that there are laws of nature which are beyond our power to change." (from a speech given at the University of Wisconsin)

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