Johann Rupert – 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Him


Johann Peter Rupert born to Anton Rupert, a South African tycoon and Huberte Rupert is the chairman of Richemont, a luxury goods company based in Switzerland as well as Remgro, a company based in South Africa. He stepped down as the chief executive on March 31, 2012 after only two years at the position having assumed the CEO spot on April of 2010. He took the reins of the company in 2002. He is ranked as the second richest man in South Africa with a net worth of $7.9 billion. Being a public figure, his life is open to scrutiny but there are a few things you might not have known about Johann Rupert.

Here are 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Johann Rupert

1. He is described as being reclusive for rarely giving interviews and staying away from public events. In 2006, newspapers gave him the nickname ‘the bear’ for predicting an economic crisis in the world. This is despite the billions he has to his name.

2. Johann Rupert grew up in Stellenbosch and attended Paul Roos Gymnasium, a well-known boy school and the University of Stellenbosch. However, he dropped out of university to pursue his career in business. The university awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2004 in the field of economics. He also has an honorary doctorate from Nelson Mandela University in commerce.

3. He started out as a banker in Chase Manhattan where he worked for two years before moving to Lazard Ferres where he worked for another three years. The passion he has for finance is shown in his businesses. He started a bank called Rand Merchant Bank in 1979 and in the same year started a corporation that to this day has created over 600,000 jobs. This is the Small Business Development Corporation. He has received many awards over the course of his business career. Away from his work in finance, his other interests have also brought him to the limelight especially his endeavors in golf. Johann Rupert founded the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation which really helps under-privileged children, and the Sports Science Institute with the help of his friends.

2010 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship - First Round

4. What may not be widely known is that he took over the L’Ormarins wine estate after the death of his younger brother and that he initiated a project in the farm to enhance it as a tribute to him. Another not so common fact about Johann Rupert is that he has personally conserved about 25,000 hectares of the Graaf Reinet area. This follows in the footsteps of his father who was also a conservationist.

5. He is outspoken about things he is passionate about. For example, he made a famous speech at the annual dinner of the European’s Tour suggesting to the players that they were not everything they thought they were and as such they should give back to the game as a gratitude for the good fortune. Also in 2005, when Wallpaper, a British design magazine described Afrikaans language, John Rupert’s native language as the ugliest in the world, he responded by withdrawing advertisement from the magazine for his company’s brands. Some time before his retirement, an analyst asked during the release of Richemont results whether Cartier’s poor performance was as a result of lack of innovation. Johann Rupert answered that analysts did not take risks and that if they wished to get to the bottom of things they had to put in the work.

6. Johann Rupert plays golf twice a month but when his friend Ernie (Els) is in town, they play four times a week. He recommends playing regularly because no matter how good you are if you go for long stints without playing you just forget your stuff. He has a handicap of 11 which he attributes to his friend and a club-fitting with Callaway. His best gross round is 70, when he played at Santa Ponsa in Majorca. He encourages kids to play golf because of the values it teaches them outside the game which is why he started a development program in South Africa to get more kids to play the game.

Laureus Spirit Sport Dinner

7. His wife Gaynor Rupert, breeds race horses because he talked her into it for the same reason he loves seeing his golfers win. He equates the feeling of having someone he has helped along or influenced in some way make it big in the game he loves to the feeling an owner gets when her prized horse wins a coveted race. Safe to say he is proud of the accomplishments of his mentees.

8. One of his favorite stories to tell is about his friend Ernie and the 1996 game. He was so mad for not winning that when he went to the locker room afterwards, he was cursing all hell and heavens. This is where he met an amateur who wanted to know whether he was ready for the pros and Ernie encouraged him. This was apparently the biggest mistake of his golf career because the amateur was Tiger Woods who is a world championship golfer today.

9. In 2013, Johann Rupert paid R40m for a bull at the Thabo Tholo game auction held annually. He says he was just part of a group of investors who wanted to buy the bull.

Johann Rupert 5

10. Rupert owns Franschhoek Motor Museum that is home to his personal collection of over 200 antique cars including his very own 63 Ferrari Lusso GT. Johann Rupert despite taking a break from executive duties still keeps an active life with his golf, programs and his family consisting of his wife and children; Hanneli, Caroline and Anton Junior.

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