Armand Hammer (b. 1898, d. 1991) was an American financier and philanthropist. His parents, Julius and Rose Hammer were Russian emigres who had made and lost a fortune in shipbuilding. His name is a pun on the "Arm and Hammer" brand of bicarbonate of soda which his family used when they arrived in their new home. Using his Russian origins and business contacts Armand Hammer managed to become an intermediary between five Soviet general-secretaries and US presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Richard Nixon.
Hammer made his fortune through a range of entrepreneurial activities including selling pharmaceuticals and wheat to Russia then importing caviar and furs to the U.S.A. in return. Hammer moved to Russia to oversee a pencil-making factory and export business but following Stalin's accession to power, Hammer left Russia taking with him many Russian paintings which he used to found the Hammer Galleries in New York.
Retiring to Los Angeles in 1961 Hammer used his fortune to buy Occidental Petroleum, a company that was nearly bankrupt at the time. However, by 1965 Occidental had become a major force in the oil industry. Hammer was convicted of making illegal contributions to Richard Nixon's re-election campaign, and was fined $3,000 and put on a year's probation. In 1989, President Bush pardoned him.
References & Notes
- Chambers Dictionary of World History
- Occidental Petroleum: History