Nicky Oppenheimer

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Nicky Oppenheimer
Vladimir Putin in South Africa 5-6 September 2006-16.jpg
Oppenheimer (right) with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2006.
Born (1945-06-08) 8 June 1945 (age 73)
South Africa
ResidenceSouth Africa
Net worthUS$7.6 billion (November 2018)[1]
Spouse(s)Orcillia Lasch
ChildrenJonathan Oppenheimer

Nicholas F. Oppenheimer (born 8 June 1945) is a South African billionaire businessman and philanthropist. He was formerly the chairman of De Beers diamond mining company and of its subsidiary, the Diamond Trading Company, and former deputy chairman of Anglo American. He is the third richest African.[2]

Early life[edit]

Nicholas is the son of Bridget (née McCall) and Harry Oppenheimer, and grandson of Ernest Oppenheimer, founder of Anglo American and the first generation of the family to chair (from 1929) the De Beers diamond mining company in South Africa, established by Cecil John Rhodes in 1888.[3] His father was of German Jewish descent. Oppenheimer was educated at Harrow School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics and took the Oxford MA.[4]

Business career[edit]

Oppenheimer joined the Anglo American Corporation in 1968, and was appointed a director in 1974. He became deputy chairman in 1983. He subsequently resigned in 2001 but remained a non-executive director until 2011.

Oppenheimer was appointed deputy chairman of the then Central Selling Organisation (now Diamond Trading Company) in 1984 and deputy chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines in 1985. He was appointed chairman of the Diamond Trading Company in 1985.[5] He was chairman of the De Beers Group from 1998 to 2012, at which point he retired when the family stake was sold to Anglo American.[6]


The Oppenheimer family has directed much of its philanthropic efforts towards preserving the heritage and cultural importance of the Southern African region, as well as to broader community upliftment in the areas of education, health, nature conservation and the arts. Nicky Oppenheimer and his son Jonathan Oppenheimer established the Brenthurst Foundation in 2005 as a way to contribute to the debate around strategies and policies for strengthening Africa's economic performance and enabling inclusive and sustainable development. The family has also long been involved in environmental and conservation issues.[7] The Oppenheimer family partnered with De Beers to establish the Diamond Route in 2006 to maximise the potential of their properties for conservation, research and environmental awareness purposes. The Diamond Route links 8 sites across northern South Africa, stretching from Namaqualand on the west coast, to Kimberley, north to Tswalu in the Kalahari, and to the Brenthurst Gardens in Johannesburg, eastwards to Ezemvelo Nature Reserve and northwards to the Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve in Limpopo Province.[8] Since 2015 Oppenheimer is also a Rhodes Trustee.[9]


In 2003, the Technikon Witwatersrand awarded Oppenheimer an honorary doctorate.[10] He received the Presidential Order of Honor (2004) from the former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae,[11] and an honorary fellowship (2009) from the London Business School.[12]

Personal life[edit]

In 1968, he married Orcillia "Strilli" Lasch, daughter of industrial tycoon Helli Lasch; both are Anglican. His father was born Jewish and converted to Anglicanism.[13]


  • Over, Luke; Oppenheimer, Nicky; Tyrrell, Chris (illustrator) (2001). Waltham Place: and its Surrounding Parish. ISBN 0-9541669-0-6.[14]


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Harry Frederick Oppenheimer
Chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines
circa 1983–2012
Succeeded by
Cynthia Carroll