Mr Five Per Cent (Ebook)

The many lives of Calouste Gulbenkian, the world’s richest man

Jonathan Conlin

King of oil, deal-maker, art collector

Winner of the BAC Wadsworth Prize for Business History 2020

When Calouste Gulbenkian died in 1955 at the age of 86, he was the richest man in the world, known as 'Mr Five Per Cent' for his personal share of Middle East oil. The son of a wealthy Armenian merchant in Istanbul, for half a century he brokered top-level oil deals, concealing his mysterious web of business interests and contacts within a labyrinth of Asian and European cartels, and convincing governments and oil barons alike of his impartiality as an 'honest broker'. Today his name is known principally through the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, to which his spectacular art collection and most of his vast wealth were bequeathed.

Gulbenkian's private life was as labyrinthine as his business dealings. He insisted on the highest 'moral values', yet ruthlessly used his wife's charm as a hostess to further his career, and demanded complete obedience from his family, whom he monitored obsessively. As a young man he lived a champagne lifestyle, escorting actresses and showgirls, and in later life - on doctor's orders - he slept with a succession of discreetly provided young women. Meanwhile he built up a superb art collection which included Rembrandts and other treasures sold to him by Stalin from the Hermitage Museum.

Published to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth, Mr Five Per Cent reveals Gulbenkian's complex and many-sided existence. Written with full access to the Gulbenkian Foundation's archives, this is the fascinating story of the man who more than anyone else helped shape the modern oil industry.

Publication date: 10/01/2019

£9.99

ISBN: 9781782834441

ISBN 10 / ASIN: B07F9YVZ5J

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: Biography & Memoir, Business & Management

Mr Five Per Cent (Paperback)

The many lives of Calouste Gulbenkian, the world’s richest man

Jonathan Conlin

King of oil, deal-maker, art collector

Winner of the BAC Wadsworth Prize for Business History 2020

When Calouste Gulbenkian died in 1955 at the age of 86, he was the richest man in the world, known as 'Mr Five Per Cent' for his personal share of Middle East oil. The son of a wealthy Armenian merchant in Istanbul, for half a century he brokered top-level oil deals, concealing his mysterious web of business interests and contacts within a labyrinth of Asian and European cartels, and convincing governments and oil barons alike of his impartiality as an 'honest broker'. Today his name is known principally through the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, to which his spectacular art collection and most of his vast wealth were bequeathed.

Gulbenkian's private life was as labyrinthine as his business dealings. He insisted on the highest 'moral values', yet ruthlessly used his wife's charm as a hostess to further his career, and demanded complete obedience from his family, whom he monitored obsessively. As a young man he lived a champagne lifestyle, escorting actresses and showgirls, and in later life - on doctor's orders - he slept with a succession of discreetly provided young women. Meanwhile he built up a superb art collection which included Rembrandts and other treasures sold to him by Stalin from the Hermitage Museum.

Published to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth, Mr Five Per Cent reveals Gulbenkian's complex and many-sided existence. Written with full access to the Gulbenkian Foundation's archives, this is the fascinating story of the man who more than anyone else helped shape the modern oil industry.

Publication date: 02/01/2020

£14.99

ISBN: 9781788160438

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: Biography & Memoir, Business & Management

Reviews for Mr Five Per Cent

'Compelling ... lovingly researched and crafted with skill... The book pulls off a double success: academic researchers will enjoy and be inspired by it, while general readers will appreciate its clarity and concision. While there are other books written about the extraordinary life of Calouste Gulbenkian, none come close to matching this volume.'

Bülent Gökay BBC History

'Calouste Gulbenkian accumulated so many millions as to be an international power of his own. Jonathan Conlin is an astute and tenacious biographer of this Armenian Maecenas-Superman, and is never duped by the subterfuges and skulduggery of the international oil business.'

Richard Davenport-Hines 

'magisterial'

 the Times

'Conlin's thorough study of his subject is admirably detailed'

 Herald

'Praise for The Nation's Mantelpiece: Wise, funny, and massively informative'

Jonathan Keates Spectator

'Conlin's in-depth study will remain the authoritative account for many years to come'

 Daily Mail

'Praise for Adam Smith: As thorough as it is entertaining. ... without oversimplifying, Conlin brings Smith's world to life.'

 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

'Praise for Tales of Two Cities: Fascinating. Admirable skill and a painter's eye ... The reader will never think of London or Paris in the same way again'

Amanda Foreman 

Jonathan Conlin

Jonathan Conlin

Jonathan Conlin was born in New York and studied history at Oxford University, followed by graduate work at the Courtauld Institute and Cambridge. He has taught modern British history at the University of Southampton since 2006. His books include The Nation's Mantelpiece: a history of the National Gallery, Tales of Two Cities: Paris, London and the Making of the Modern City, and a biography of Adam Smith.