Ben Goldsmith

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Ben Goldsmith
Benjamin James Goldsmith

(1980-10-28) 28 October 1980 (age 39)
London, England
Alma materEton College
OccupationFinancier and environmentalist
Known forFinance
Spouse(s)Kate Rothschild (m. 2003–2012)
Jemima Jones (m. 2014)
Parent(s)Sir James Goldsmith
Lady Annabel Vane-Tempest-Stewart
RelativesSee Goldsmith family

Benjamin James Goldsmith (born 28 October 1980) is an English financier and environmentalist.[1] The son of financier James Goldsmith and Lady Annabel Goldsmith he is founder and CEO of London-listed investment firm Menhaden, which focuses on the theme of energy and resource efficiency. Previously he co-founded the sustainability-focused investment firm WHEB, whose private equity business split away in 2014 and now trades under the name Alaina Partners. He has used his personal wealth to support both philanthropic and political projects in the area of the environment and sustainability.

He had a high-profile marriage to Rothschild heiress Kate Emma Rothschild which ended in 2012. The split gained tabloid headlines in the UK after being dubbed the first "Twitter divorce" for playing out on social media via posts on Twitter.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Goldsmith was born in London and is the youngest child of the late billionaire James Goldsmith, a member of the prominent Jewish Goldsmith family, and his third wife Lady Annabel Vane-Tempest-Stewart.[2] He has an older sister, Jemima Khan; an older brother, Zac Goldsmith; and several half-siblings.[3] Zac has had a strong influence on him,[4] and has a passion for the environment inherited from their father, who, towards the end of his life, was one of Europe's most prominent founders of green causes, including campaigns against genetically modified food.[5] His uncle Teddy Goldsmith was a co-founder of the Green Party UK and also of The Ecologist.[6][7]:228–9

On 20 September 2003, at St Mary's Church in Bury St Edmunds, he married heiress Kate Emma Rothschild (b. 1982), the daughter of the late Amschel Rothschild and his wife, Anita Patience Guinness, of the Guinness Brewery family. Their wedding was attended by 600 guests, with many blue-blooded and Old Etonian friends, among them Lord Frederick Windsor.

The couple have three children: Iris Annabel (2004–2019), Frank James Amschel (b. 2005) and Isaac Benjamin Victor (b. 2008). On 2 June 2012 it was reported that Kate, a music producer, had been having an extramarital affair with rapper Jay Electronica for a year. Goldsmith, who was arrested for slapping his wife over the matter, said that he would be filing for divorce.[citation needed]

On 19 December 2014, he married Jemima Jones (b. 1987) in London, his girlfriend of two years. Jemima runs the catering company Tart London. The couple have two children: Eliza Margot (b. 2016) and Arlo Edward Zac (b. 2017).[citation needed]

On 8 July 2019, Goldsmith's fifteen-year-old daughter, Iris, died in a quad bike accident on his farm in North Brewham, Somerset. Goldsmith said that "it hurts me so much I can't describe".[8]


Goldsmith attended Eton College, an independent English public school, and like his billionaire father, did not attend university.[4] After he graduated, he travelled, then became a trainee at private-client broker Hargreave Hale, then worked for the Quintessentially Group concierge business.[4] In the meantime, he began investing with his uncle Teddy in environmental businesses.[4]

In 2003,[9] Goldsmith became a partner in WHEB, and led the pivot of that company, which had been founded in 1995, from serving as a corporate finance adviser into providing venture capital to the European clean technology sector.[10] WHEB also owned Ruston WHEB, which in 2009 was the leading executive search firm in the European cleantech sector.[4] In 2014 Goldsmith oversaw the demerger of WHEB's private and public equity businesses, with the former rebranding Alpina Partners, before launching his own green-themed investment trust, Menhaden Capital Plc, listed on the main London stock exchange.

In 2003 Goldsmith also helped found the UK Environmental Funders Network.[11][12][13] He described EFN as being "designed to facilitate discussion and foster collaboration" among those interested in funding environmental initiatives, particularly those addressing large-scale problems like global warming.[14] As part of its work EFS gathers information on environmental giving and disseminates it via its "Where Green Grants Went" report.[15]:34

Through JMG Foundation, the family foundation that Goldsmith chairs,[11][12] he is also directly involved in activist environmental philanthropy.[13][14] He is also a trustee of the Children's Investment Fund Foundation, one of the leading environmental foundations in Europe, founded by financier and philanthropist Chris Hohn.

Ben Goldsmith was described by London's Evening Standard in 2011 as "the quiet force of the Goldsmith family... believed to be a key figure in looking after the family finances."[10]

In 2015 Goldsmith launched Menhaden Capital, a £74.4 million thematic investment trust focused on efficient energy and resource use. In July 2018 the trust reached its three year milestone with a 30.5% drop in share price.[16]

In 2018, Goldsmith was appointed non-executive director[17] at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. This proved controversial as he had previously donated cash to Michael Gove's Surrey Heath constituency[18] and the selection process for the job was overseen by Sir Ian Cheshire, who is chairman of Goldsmith’s investment firm, Menhaden Capital Management.[18]

Complaints about the appointment include comments that Goldsmith is a member of the “urban elite”, and that though interested in the environment he had no experience with environmental issues facing farmers in the United Kingdom.[19]


Goldsmith is a long standing funder of the Green Party, including giving £20,000 in 2004 to the UK Green Party and again prior to the 2010 General Election in which Caroline Lucas became Britain's first elected Green Member of Parliament.[20] In subsequent years, Goldsmith has also contributed generously to the UK Conservative Party as well as individual candidates like Conservative MP Michael Gove and the so-called "Notting Hill set of Conservative modernisers".

Goldsmith is chair of the Conservative Environment Network (CEN) which was founded in 2010.[21] The CEN seeks to raise the issue of environmental protection on the agenda of the UK Conservative Party.[12]

At a talk at the UK Centre for Jewish Life in 2013, Goldsmith said that a Zionist is simply someone who believes that the Jews have a right to have their own state in Israel, and therefore described himself as an "ardent Zionist."[22]

In 2016 he campaigned for his brother Zac Goldsmith who was running for mayor of London.

Environmental activism[edit]

In 2017, Goldsmith participated in Forces for Nature, a major report released by EFN. The report aims to encourage more philanthropists to support environmental issues and explores how environmental contributors can be more effective.[23]

Goldsmith was a key signatory to a petition sent to Prime Minister Theresa May and Michael Gove urging them to ban all crop spraying and pesticide use in UK rural residential areas.[24]



  1. ^ "Ben Goldsmith's Official Profile on The Marque".
  2. ^ Billionaire: The Life and Times of Sir James Goldsmith by Ivan Fallon
  3. ^ – Person Page 5917
  4. ^ a b c d e Chris Blackhurst for MailOnline. 14 January 2009 Profile: Ben Goldsmith, by Chris Blackhurst, This is Money (UK), 14 January 2009.
  5. ^ Wheeler, Brian (11 January 2006). "Interview: Zac Goldsmith". BBC News.
  6. ^ Nilima Choudhury for Responding to Climate Change. 19 August 2013 Ben Goldsmith: it’s possible to be green and conservative Archived 30 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Meredith Veldman. Fantasy, the Bomb, and the Greening of Britain. Cambridge University Press, 1994. ISBN 978-0521440608
  8. ^ Iris Goldsmith: Father pays tribute to 'beautiful little girl', BBC News, 12 July 2019.
  9. ^ Alex Blackburne for Blue & Green Tomorrow. 27 January 2014 Leading sustainable investor WHEB on its new branding
  10. ^ a b Christopher SIlvester for the Evening Standard. 13 May 2011 "The Goldsmith supremacy: London's most compelling dynasty"
  11. ^ a b Alex Blackburne for Blue & Green Tomorrow. 27 January 2014 Ben Goldsmith on fixing the environmental crisis through philanthropy
  12. ^ a b c World Economic Forum. Benjamin Goldsmith profile at World Economic Forum Page accessed 27 June 2015
  13. ^ a b Bloomberg Ben Goldsmith profile at Bloomberg Page accessed 27 June 2015
  14. ^ a b Ben Goldsmith for Philanthropy U.K. Magazine. 23 August 2010. Philanthropy in a climate of change
  15. ^ Intelligent Funding Forum. March 2012 Funding for the future: how all grant-makers can help to create a greener world Archived 30 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Tasman-Jones, Jessica (20 July 2018). "Why Ben Goldsmith is downplaying his fund's three-year milestone". Portfolio Adviser. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  17. ^ Kleinman, Mark (1 March 2018). "Gove risks new Whitehall row over choice of DEFRA directors". Sky News. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  18. ^ a b Vaughan, Richard (23 March 2018). "Michael Gove facing questions over appointment of Tory donor Ben Goldsmith to Defra board". I Newspaper. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  19. ^ Fisher, Lucy (31 May 2018). "Ben Goldsmith too urban for rural affairs, say Tory MPs". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  20. ^ [1], by Alex Blackburne, Blue and Green, 7 August 2013.
  21. ^ Ben Caldecott and Gavin Dick in the Telegraph. 10 Mar 2010 David Cameron's environmentalism will succeed where Labour's failed. Quote: "That is why the Conservative Environment Network, which launches today, has been formed. We are determined to support the current environmental leadership the Conservative Party is showing and to make the case to other Conservatives who may not recognise our Party’s proud environmental heritage."
  22. ^ Centre for Jewish Life. 3 July 2013. Ben Goldsmith: The Green Revolutionary. Entrepreneurship, Environment & Impressions from Israel Centre for Jewish Life Business Forum Archived 2 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Philanthropists urged to catalyse environmental action". Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  24. ^ "Is the new UK Agriculture Bill a triumph or a travesty?". The Ecologist. Retrieved 14 October 2018.

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