Ronald Lauder Biography

Ronald Lauder is an American businessman, art collector, and philanthropist known for his prominent role in the art world and his successful career in business. As the son of Estee Lauder and Joseph Lauder, founders of Estee Lauder Companies, Lauder developed a passion for business from an early age. He earned a bachelor’s degree in International Business from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and furthered his education at prestigious universities in Paris and Brussels. Lauder’s professional journey began at his family business, where he gained valuable experience in operating a thriving company. In addition to his business endeavors, Lauder is also a political activist, having served as the US ambassador to Austria and running for the position of mayor of New York City. He is widely recognized for his esteemed art collection and his contribution to the art world through the establishment of the Neue Galerie in New York, a museum dedicated to German and Austrian art from the early 20th century. Lauder’s strong Jewish beliefs have also led him to be elected as the president of the World Jewish Congress in 2007.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Ronald S Lauder
  • Age: 79 Years, 79 Year Old Males
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Jo Carole Lauder
    • Father: Joseph Lauder
    • Mother: Estée Lauder
    • Siblings: Leonard Lauder
    • Children: Aerin Lauder, Aerin Lauder Zinterhoff, Jane Lauder
  • Philanthropists
  • American Men
  • City: New York City
  • U.S. State: New Yorkers
  • Founder/Co-Founder: Estée Lauder Companies, Central European Media Enterprises
  • Education: The Bronx High School of Science, 1964 – Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, University of Paris
  • Awards: International Emmy Award for Directorate

Childhood & Early Life

Ronald Steven Lauder was born on February 26, 1944, in New York City, New York, to Estee Lauder and Joseph Lauder, founders of Estee Lauder Companies. He was raised Jewish. He graduated from the Bronx High School of Science before joining the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania from where he received a Bachelor’s degree in International Business. He continued his higher education from the University of Paris and proceeded to earn a Certificate in International Business from the University of Brussels.


Ronald Lauder began his professional career working for his parents’ company, Estee Lauder Company, in 1964. Having watched his parents closely from a young age, he soon learned the basic principles of running a successful business. He was interested in politics and political activism from an early age. In 1983, he was chosen to serve as the United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Affairs, a position he held till 1986. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan appointed him as the US ambassador to Austria. In this position he built strong diplomatic bonds between the two nations and personally repudiated Kurt Waldheim—a man with a Nazi past and the then Austrian president.

While serving in Austria, he began exploring his own Judeo-Hungarian roots and in the process, discovered that Jews were still living not only in Hungary, but throughout the Central and Eastern European region. His Austrian experiences heightened his own appreciation of his Jewish heritage and he resolved to revitalize Jewish life across central and Eastern Europe in communities that had been devastated by the Holocaust.

Ronald Lauder has been a Republican from a young age. In 1989, he decided to run for the position of mayor of New York City, but lost to Rudy Giuliani in the Republican primary. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Lauder to begin Track II negotiations with Syrian leader Hafez al-Asad, in 1998. The communications between the two men led to Asad’s willingness to make compromises with the Israelis in an overall land for peace deal. This also led to Israeli-Syrian negotiations in January 2000 in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, which however failed to yield any favorable results. In keeping up with his dedication towards Jewish causes, Lauder served as Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations from 1999 until 2001.

A renowned art collector, Lauder opened the Neue Galerie in New York in 2001. The museum is dedicated to art from Germany and Austria from the early 20th century and houses one of the best collections of works by Egon Schiele in the world. He also has the world’s largest private collection of medieval and Renaissance armor.

Ronald Lauder has always been involved in Jewish activism and thus it came as no surprise when he was elected President of the World Jewish Congress on June 10, 2007 and the President of the World Jewish Restitution Organization the following year. He also serves as Chairman of the Jewish Heritage Council.

Major Works

Ronald Lauder is the founder of the Neue Galerie in New York which is a museum of early 20th German and Austrian art and design. Immediately after its opening, the gallery earned a reputation as New York’s leading gallery for Austrian and German Expressionist art. The museum houses famous paintings by the likes of Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, and Egon Schiele.

Philanthropic Works

He established the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to Jewish causes, in 1987. One of the primary motives of the organization is to rebuild Jewish communities in Central and Eastern Europe. One of the major programs of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation is an International Student Exchange Program linking New York City high school students with their counterparts in Vienna, Budapest, Warsaw, Prague, St. Petersburg, Berlin and Sofia. He is also actively involved with several other organizations dedicated to Jewish causes including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Jewish National Fund, the World Jewish Congress, and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

Awards & Achievements

Ronald Lauder was honored with the International Emmy Directorate Award in 2006.

Personal Life & Legacy

He has been married to Jo Carole Knopf Lauder since 1967 and has two children, Aerin and Jane.

Leave a Comment