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Gulbenkian, Calouste Sarkis

Turkish, 1869 - 1955

A financier, industrialist, and diplomat born at Scutari, Turkey, Calouste Gulbenkian entered his father's oil business in Baku, Azerbaijan, on the West coast of the Caspian Sea. After becoming a naturalized British subject in 1902 he brought the Russians into the new Royal Dutch-Shell merger and in 1907 he arranged for the latter to break into the American market, thus laying the foundation of an important British dollar asset. In 1916 he organized French entry into the Turkish Petroleum Company, instead of the Germans, and between 1921 and 1928 he did the same for the Americans. In 1940 in "Vichy" France, the five per cent Iraq Petroleum Company interest was confiscated by Britain, and Gulbenkian was declared an "Enemy under the Act," whereupon he assumed Persian citizenship. From 1948 to 1954 he negotiated oil concessions between America and Saudi Arabia. He left $70,000,000 and vast art collections to finance an international Gulbenkian Foundation. [excerpted from Chambers, 1974 (see Bibliography)]
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