Richest BusinessRichest Billionaires
Net Worth:
$4 Billion
Jun 21, 1932 - Sep 16, 2016 (84 years old)
Businessperson, Poet
United States of America
đź’° Compare Gerard Louis-Dreyfus' Net Worth

What was GĂ©rard Louis-Dreyfus's Net Worth?

Gerard Louis-Dreyfus was a French-native American businessman who had a net worth of $4 billion at the time of his death in 2016. Gérard Louis-Dreyfus served as the chairman of Louis Dreyfus Energy Services, a subsidiary of his family's global merchant firm Louis Dreyfus Company. The Energy Services arm was involved in crude-oil trading, gas investments, and infrastructure. He is perhaps most famous in the U.S. for being the father of award winning actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Gerard Louis-Dreyfus died on September 16, 2016.

Early Life and Education

GĂ©rard Louis-Dreyfus was born on June 21, 1932 in Paris, France to French father Pierre and American mother Dolores, who was of Brazilian and Mexican ancestry. His paternal great-grandfather was LĂ©opold, founder of the merchant firm Louis Dreyfus Company. He had a sister named Dominique. In 1940, some years after his parents' divorce, Louis-Dreyfus moved with his mother to the United States, where he adopted the name William to signify his new American identity. Meanwhile, his father fought in the French Resistance during World War II. Louis-Dreyfus pursued his higher education at Duke University, from which he earned his BA in English literature in 1954. He went on to attend the Duke University School of Law, obtaining his LLB in 1957.

Louis Dreyfus Company

After graduating from Duke, Louis-Dreyfus worked at the New York City law firm of Dewey Ballantine. Following that, in 1965, he joined his family's Louis Dreyfus Company. Founded by his great-grandfather LĂ©opold in 1851, the company specializes in a wide range of areas, including agriculture, food processing, shipping, telecommunications, finance, and real estate. Although GĂ©rard joined the company when it was nearly bankrupt, he was able to turn it around into one of the leading commodities traders in the world. He later served as the chairman of the company's subsidiary group Louis Dreyfus Energy Services, which was formed in 1997. That division is involved in crude-oil trading, gas investments, and infrastructure. Ownership of Louis Dreyfus Company remains with the family.


Beyond the family business, Louis-Dreyfus was a passionate poet and taught poetry at Jackie Robinson High School in Harlem from 1995 to 1997. After that, from 1998 to 2008, he served as the chairman of the Poetry Society of America. Founded in 1910, it is the oldest poetry organization in the United States, and has counted among its members such luminaries as Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Marianne Moore, and Witter Bynner. Louis-Dreyfus had published many of his own poems during his lifetime, including in the Hudson Review, Southwest Review, and the New Criterion.

Via Getty Images

Other Endeavors

Louis-Dreyfus ran his own charitable foundation, through which he demonstrated his commitment to helping disenfranchised people. His foundation designated the Harlem Children's Zone, an educational nonprofit supporting youth through schools and programs. Louis-Dreyfus also awarded scholarships to African-American students throughout the country.

In his other notable endeavors, Louis-Dreyfus put together a significant art collection containing works by Alberto Giacometti, Wassily Kandinsky, and Helen Frankenthaler, among others. He was also engaged in the political world, and published a full-page ad in the New York Times in late 2012 entitled "A Call to Arms to the Wealthy to Protect the Right to Vote." Louis-Dreyfus donated $1 million to the effort, which was intended to urge affluent Americans to combat voter suppression.

Personal Life and Death

Louis-Dreyfus married his first wife, Judith LeFever, in 1955. Together, they had one daughter, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, before divorcing in 1962. Julia went on to become a highly acclaimed actress, best known for her award-winning roles in the television series "Seinfeld," "The New Adventures of Old Christine," and "Veep." Notably, she has won more Emmy and SAG Awards than any other performer in history.

Gerard's first cousin Robert was also a billionaire. Gerard's widow Margarita Louis-Dreyfus is a multi-billionaire today.

Louis-Dreyfus wed his second wife, Phyllis Blankenship, in 1965. They had two daughters, Phoebe and Emma, both of whom became social workers, as well as a son named Raphael. Louis-Dreyfus remained wed to Blankenship until his passing in 2016 at his home in Mount Kisco, New York. He was 84 years of age.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
Did we make a mistake?
Submit a correction suggestion and help us fix it!
Submit a Correction