What George Soros' life is really like: How the former hedge-fund manager built his $8.3 billion fortune, purchased a sprawling network of New York homes, and became the topic of international conspiracy theories

Win McNamee/Getty ImagesInvestor George Soros speaks during a program hosted by the New America Foundation September 13, 2006 in Washington, DC.
  • Former hedge-fund manager George Soros is the 178th-richest person on the planet, with a net worth of approximately $US8.3 billion, according to Forbes.
  • Soros is well known for his philanthropy, having given away more than $US32 billion, according to his personal website.
  • He has purchased a sprawling network of homes in the New York area, including a Southhampton estate and an Upper East Side townhouse.
  • The billionaire spends big on causes he believes in, including politics.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Conspiracy theorists accuse former hedge-fund manager George Soros of aiding Nazis, conspiring to fill Budapest with refugees, and trying to start a Civil War in the United States. While these theories lack support, little is actually known about how the 88-year-old billionaire passes his days.

Soros built his fortune running what was once the world’s largest hedge fund – Quantum Fund. After he passed his hedge fund to his sons in 2011, Soros has largely focused his personal goal of creating a more open society through giving to both his personal foundation and a variety of progressive politicians, according to his personal website.

Keep reading to see how George Soros built his fortune, how he spends it – and why.


Soros was born as Gyorgy Schwartz into a Jewish family in Budapest on August 12, 1930. They later changed their surname to Soros.

Source: Bloomberg


Soros and his family stayed in Budapest through the city’s Nazi occupation from 1944–1945, using fake IDs to hide their Jewish heritage. “Instead of submitting to our fate, we resisted an evil force that was much stronger than we were — yet we prevailed. Not only did we survive, but we managed to help others,” Soros is quoted as saying on his personal website.

Source: GeorgeSoros.com


Soros’ family fled Hungary for London as the Soviets swept the country in 1947. In London, he worked part-time as a waiter in a night club and as a railroad porter.

Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Source: GeorgeSoros.com


He later enrolled in the London School of Economics, graduating in 1954.

Source: GeorgeSoros.com,

Bloomberg


Soros moved to New York in 1956, and got a job trading foreign stocks for F. M. Mayer.

Source: Bloomberg


Soros founded Quantum Fund in 1973. Quantum would later become the largest hedge fund in the world.

Reuters Pictures ArchiveSoros and Stanley Druckenmiller, the former manager of the Quantum Fund, speak at a press conference in New York in 2000.

Source: Bloomberg


Quantum’s success made Soros a billionaire. His net worth is now $US8.3 billion, according to Forbes.

Source: Forbes


“My success in the financial markets has given me a greater degree of independence than most other people,” Soros said.

Sergei Guneyev/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

Source: GeorgeSoros.com


He retired from managing money for clients in 2011 and passed control of his firm to his sons.

Source: Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Washington Post


Soros returned $US1 billion to his investors and established a family office to manage his family’s fortune and the assets of his foundation.

Source: Bloomberg Billionaires Index


Soros has been married three times, first to Annaliese Witschak from 1960 to 1983 and later to historian Susan Weber from 1983 to 2005. Soros married his current wife, Tamiko Bolton, in 2013.

Getty Images / Sean Gallup / StaffGeorge Soros and Tamiko Bolton.

Source: Biography.com


Soros has five children, although none with Bolton.

Source: Bloomberg,The New York Times


The Soros family has several homes, including the Southampton estate where the billionaire hosted his 80th birthday party in 2010.

Getty Images / ThinkstockShinnecock Inlet, Southampton. Soros’ estate not pictured.

Source: The New York Post

Read more: Meet The Fabulously Rich And Famous Residents Of Southampton


He’s also a longtime Manhattan resident. He once owned 116 East 70th St., a lavish Upper East Side townhouse, with his ex-wife Susan Weber.

Google Street View

Source: Bloomberg Billionaires Index,Curbed


He now owns a duplex on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue that has a view of the Central Park reservoir.

Source: Chicago Tribune


Soros also owns a residential compound in Katonah, New York.

Source: AP


A pipe bomb was sent to that home on October 23, 2018.

Source: AP


The bomb was later detonated by authorities in a secluded area. Prominent Democrats including Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, George Soros, former President Barack Obama, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and Former US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper were also sent bombs. No one was hurt.

Source: The New York Times


Soros is often vilified by conservatives for his large contributions to liberal politicians in the United States, Hungary, Russia and elsewhere.

Source: The Chicago Tribune


He identifies as an agnostic Jew.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Source: Chicago Tribune


Much of the criticism of Soros by media and political figures is anti-Semitic.

Yunus Kaymaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Source: Al Jazeera


Soros was featured in ads sponsored by the far-right Hungarian government accusing him of colluding to bring Muslim immigrants into Hungary. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban campaigned on a promise to pass a “Stop Soros” bill aimed at silencing his critics, including Soros.

Source: AP,

The Chicago Tribune


Closer to home, conspiracy theorists have accused Soros of attempting to start a civil war in the US and funding the violence at the 2017 “Unite the Right” protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Source: Al Jazeera


Soros is also often accused of collaborating with Nazis during the Holocaust. Comedian Roseanne Barr repeated this conspiracy theory on Twitter in 2018 in one of a series of tweets that resulted in the cancellation of her ABC sitcom.

ABC

Source: Al Jazeera


In response, Soros said that such allegations “annoy me greatly.” He also said that they are “a total fabrication.”

Miguel Villagran/Getty Images

Source: Chicago Tribune


“The bigger the danger, the bigger the threat, the more I feel engaged to confront it,” Soros said.

Nikolai Malyshev/ITAR-TASS

Source: Chicago Tribune


The controversy around Soros isn’t limited to conspiracy theories, however. Soros is sometimes called “the man who broke the Bank of England,” after he made $US1 billion betting against the British pound as it crashed on “Black Wednesday” in 1992.

Source: Forbes


Soros has said that his opponents fuel him to fight for what he believes in: “I’m painfully aware that they are against the ideas that I stand for.”

AP Photo Manuel Balce Ceneta

Source: The Chicago Tribune


The billionaire spends big on causes he believes in, including politics. He spent at least $US25 million on voter mobilization efforts to help Clinton and other Democrats during the 2016 elections, one of his spokespeople told the Chicago Tribune.

Source: The Chicago Tribune


Soros was surprised by Clinton’s defeat. “Apparently, I was living in my own bubble,” he told The Washington Post.

Andy Kiersz/Skye Gould/Business Insider

Source: The Chicago Tribune


Clinton lost because “she was too much like a schoolmarm,” Soros said. “Talking down to people… instead of listening to them.”

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesDemocratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) greets Anastasia Somoza (R) before speaking at a campaign event at Frontline Outreach and Youth Center on September 21, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Florida.

Source: Chicago Tribune


Soros also unsuccessfully supported several candidates during the 2018 midterm elections, despite donating $US17 million. Several district attorney candidates he supported in California lost to incumbents.

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Source: The Chicago Tribune,

The Guardian


Soros has also referred to President Trump as a “narcissist” who “considers himself all-powerful.”

Source: Chicago Tribune


Soros said he and Trump had been friendly “decades” before Trump took office. The pair spent time together at the home of a mutual friend.

Popow/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Source: Chicago Tribune


“I had no idea he had political ambitions, but I didn’t like his behaviour as a businessman,” Soros is quoted as saying in June 2018 Chicago Tribune article.

Source: Chicago Tribune


Soros hasn’t publicly announced who he will support in 2020, but has said who he won’t back: New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Source: Chicago Tribune


Soros takes issue with Gillibrand’s calls for the resignation of former Sen. Al Franken.

Source: The Chicago Tribune


Soros has not always been liberal, however. He supported Republican candidates until the invasion of Iraq under President George W. Bush in 2003 turned him against the party.

Source: The Chicago Tribune


Soros doesn’t just give money to politicians. He is the founder and chair of Open Society Foundations, a non-profit that disperses grants for education, human rights, criminal justice, and journalism projects.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Source: Open Society Foundations


Soros first became active in philanthropy in 1979, when he funded scholarships for black South Africans during apartheid.

Source: GeorgeSoros.com


Soros has donated more than $US32 billion of his own money to his foundation, according to his personal website.

Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images

Source: GeorgeSoros.com


Soros named the foundation after a book by Karl Popper, titled “Open Society and Its Enemies.” In it, Popper writes how societies succeed only when they are democratic and protect human rights.

Getty Images / David Levenson / ContributorPhilosopher Sir Karl Poper.

Source: GeorgeSoros.com


In Hungary, the attacks on Soros are so vicious that the foundation announced that it would relocate from Budapest to Berlin in May 2019. “The government of Hungary has denigrated and misrepresented our work and repressed civil society for the sake of political gain, using tactics unprecedented in the history of the European Union,” Open Society Foundations president Patrick Gaspard said in a statement.

Source: Al Jazeera


Central European University, a graduate school founded by Soros, also plans to relocate from Budapest to Vienna due to tensions with the Hungarian government.

ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Central European University


“It makes it very difficult for me to speak effectively because it can be taken out of context and used against me,” Soros said about the conspiracy theories, according to the Chicago Tribune.

ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Chicago Tribune


Russian President Vladimir Putin pushed Soros’ foundation out of Russia in 2017, where it had funded numerous projects, including an anti-torture program.

Source: Chicago Tribune


“He intervenes in things all over the world,” Putin said of Soros in a 2018 television interview in Austria. “But the State Department will tell you that it has nothing to do with that, that this is the personal business of Mr. Soros.”

Source: Chicago Tribune,

Bloomberg


Outside of his philanthropic work, Soros has also written 14 books on a variety of topics, including the European Union and the global financial crisis.

Getty Images / Andia / Contributor

Source: GeorgeSoros.com


At his 80th birthday party, Soros told his 350 guests: “I am a philanthropist. Some maybe think I’m a philanderer. My philosophy is very simple. I like to make a lot of money, so I can give away a lot of money.”

Source: The New York Post

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