Armand Hammer - friend of US presidents and Soviet dictators
As a youth, he met Lenin and was the first capitalist to gain a business concession in the USSR; during the 1920s he was a courier for the Soviet government to the American Communist Party. It might be a job he continued into his old age.
The new Marxist-Leninist regime in the USSR gave Hammer the rights to sell old Czarist paintings in the West, and he amassed a fortune as a young man. Many American and other art galleries and institutions as well as private collectors still own Russian masterpieces that the Communist regime and Armand Hammer shipped out of their rightful homeland.
Good guy/bad guy?
His autobiography painted him as a philanthropist and worker for peace, though other biographies portrayed him as a liar, a Communist propagandist (and possibly an espionage agent through several US administrations), a bully and a briber. He always seemed to skirt prosecution, perhaps because his fortune and fame protected him, though he did come under investigation for a bribery scandal in Venezuela where he had oil concessions. In 1976 he pleaded guilty to charges of concealing a $54,000 contribution to the re-election campaign of Richard Nixon, receiving just a small fine and eventually a pardon from President George Bush (Daddy).
A man of immense energy, Hammer created the transnational giant, Occidental Petroleum, after he was 65 years old, and worked seven days a week until 91 years of age. And he bought or created many more corporations. In his autobiography he boasted that when he bought the corporation that owned Arm and Hammer Baking Soda Company, he was fulfilling a childhood dream of owning his namesake. He wrote that his father Julius Hammer had named him after a character, Armand Duval, in La Dame aux Camellias by Alexandre Dumas, fils.
Bucks or ideology?
In fact, according to his biographer, Carl Blumay (The Dark Side of Power, Simon &; Schuster, 1992), his former press agent of many years, Armand Hammer was named after the arm-and-hammer insignia of the Socialist Labor Party that became, under Julius Hammer's leadership, the Communist Party of the USA ...
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Categories: usa, biography, oil, marxism-leninism, communism, capitalism, corporations