Sammy Ofer

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Sammy Ofer KBE
Born (1922-02-22)22 February 1922
Died 3 June 2011(2011-06-03) (aged 89)
Tel Aviv, Israel
Nationality Israeli
Spouse(s) Aviva Ofer
Children Eyal Ofer, Idan Ofer

Sammy Ofer (born Shmuel Herskovich; 22 February 1922 – 3 June 2011)[2] was an Israeli shipping magnate and philanthropist. He was one of the wealthiest men in Israel.

Early life

He was born in 1922 in Galați, Romania.[3] In 1924, Ofer's family migrated to Mandatory Palestine. The family lived in Haifa. With the start of World War II, he enlisted in the Royal Navy.[3] During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, he served in the Israeli Sea Corps.


After finishing his military service, he became a shipping agent with the Eastern Conglomerate, and by 1950 had bought his first ship. He expanded in the shipping business.[4]

Ofer's assets, which are partly in his exclusive ownership and partly owned together with his brother Yuli, consist of one of the largest private shipping companies in the world, with total value of almost £2 billion.[5] This includes the companies ZIM, Royal Caribbean International, Israel Corporation, Israel Chemicals, Oil Refineries Ltd, Bank Mizrahi-Tfahot, and Tower Semiconductor.

The annual Forbes magazine's list of The World's Billionaires estimated in 2011 his fortune, together with his brother Yuli's, to be $10.3 billion, ranked him in 2011 as the 79th in the wealthiest people in the world, and the wealthiest man in Israel.[6]


In March 2008, Ofer donated £20 million to London's National Maritime Museum (NMM) at Greenwich, as part of a £35 million programme of expansion.[5] Ofer donated £3.3 million to help complete the restoration of the Cutty Sark by 2010.[5] In 2013, a £1.5 million donation from Eyal Ofer enabled the NMM to buy two paintings by George Stubbs from 1772. The paintings depict a kangaroo and a dingo, and are the first depictions of Australian animals in Western art.[7]

In 2007, Sammy Ofer donated $25 million to the Rambam Health Care Campus, in Haifa, Israel. This contribution was earmarked for two main purposes: $17 million for the 2000-bed fortified underground hospital and $7 million to renovate the existing departments of Surgery, Urology, and ENT.

On 10 November 2008 he was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in recognition of his involvement with maritime heritage in the United Kingdom.[8]

Personal life

He was married to Aviva Ofer. They had two sons: Idan Ofer and Eyal Ofer. They resided in Monte Carlo, Monaco.


On 3 June 2011, Ofer died in his house in Tel Aviv at the age of 89.[9]


In 2013, Idan Ofer donated £25 million to London Business School in honor of his father, Sammy.[10] The Old Marylebone Town Hall will be renamed the Sammy Ofer Centre. The gift is the largest in the school's history.[10]


  1. ^ Magnatul israelian Sammy Ofer, nascut in Romania, a decedat la varsta de 89 de ani
  2. ^ Isabel Kershner (4 June 2011). "Sammy Ofer, Magnate and Israeli Power Broker, Dies at 89". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b John Reed, Idan Ofer: fleeing Israel’s new populism, The Financial Times, 12 April 2013
  4. ^ "Memorial to Sammy Ofer". Memorial website.
  5. ^ a b c Shipping billionaire makes £3.3m donation to restore fire-damaged Cutty Sark Daily Mail
  6. ^ "The World's Billionaires:#132 Sammy Ofer & family". Forbes. 11 March 2000.
  7. ^ "George Stubbs' kangaroo and dingo paintings to stay in UK". BBC News Online. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  8. ^ Honorary Awards Archived 5 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  9. ^ Maayana Miskin (3 June 2011). "Businessman Sammy Ofer Dies at 89". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  10. ^ a b Della Bradshaw, Adam Palin, Idan Ofer gives £25m to London Business School, The Financial Times, 26 September 2013
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