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Where some people speak in South Africa, there money speaks. These people who can easily brag among the richest in Africa, include Johann Rupert who has remained among the fat pockets of the country for some time now.

On various Forbes record of richest people in South Africa and Africa as a whole, Rupert has through his diverse businesses remained resolute.

Johann Rupert Biography

Johann Rupert was born in 1950, in Stellenbosch, South Africa into the family of one of the country’s top business tycoons, Anton Rupert, as the eldest child.

Rupert got his secondary education from Paul Roose Gymnasium in Stellenbosch where he grew up. From there he proceeded to the University of Stellenbosch and began studying Economics and Company Law. He however didn’t pursue this to the end as he dropped out to go after his business life.

Rupert is married to Gaynor Rupert, with whom he has three children.

In 2013 he set the South African media abuzz when he paid 40 Million rand (2.8 million US Dollar) for a buffalo bull at the annual Thabo Tholo game auction in the country’s Thabazimbe. Rupert who bought the buffalo bull from among a breed of superior animals (as the game is intended to raise), said the bull could as well be the best bull in the country after he bought it. The multibillionaire however said he was one among other investors that bought the bull.

Business Life

Johann Rupert started his business on the foundation set by his father, Anton Rupert, who was a successful businessman as well as a philanthropist. The elder Rupert began his empire with a dry cleaning business before deciding to go into cigarette making, which he started in his garage. The business grew into a large multinational company; Rembrandt Group which spreads across 35 countries and six continents. In 1941, he was one of 500 richest men in the world. His assets were put at around 1.7 billion US Dollar when he died.

It was such business success that served as Johann Rupert’s foundation. After leaving school, the young Rupert went to New York City and worked for Chase Manhattan and Lazard Freres for two and three years respectively for apprenticeship.

In 1979 Johann Rupert returned to South Africa and began the Rand Merchant Bank and later the Small Business Development Corporation.

In 1988, Rupert found the Compagnie Financiere Richemont, which was an expansion of the family’s Rembrandt empire. He did this by diversifying Rembrandt from tobacco and alcohol.  Under his watch, Richemont grew into one of the world’s largest luxury good group.

In 2000 he formed the Remgro Limited and VenFin Limited as a result of the restructuring of the Rembrandt Group Limited. Through his years as a business man, Rupert has managed to build, maintain and sustain an extremely large empire.

He has founded different businesses and held various offices including:

  • Chancellor: Stellenbosch University
  • Executive Chairman Compagnie Financiere Richemont
  • Non Executive Chairman Gold Fields Limited
  • Vice Chairman Rembrandt Group
  • Executive Chairman of RMB Holdings Limited
  • Founder VenFin Limited
  • Founder Vendome Luxury Group
  • Founder and Chief Executive Officer of RMB Holdings Limited
  • Founder Small Business Development Corporation


Worth As at 2016

According to Forbes 2016 list of richest men, Johann Rupert is four spots below the richest man in Africa, Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote who is worth over $16.7 billion. Others above him are Nicky Oppenheimer who is worth $6.6bn and Christoffel Wiese who is worth $6.5bn, both of whom are South Africans.

Johann Rupert is worth $6.3 billion, standing atop Morocco’s King Mohammed VI ($5.7 billion), Egypt’s Nassef Sawiris (4.1 billion) and Nigeria’s Mike Adenuga ($3.5 billion).

The 2016 Forbes release showed Rupert who was the richest man in South Africa in 2015, drop by 18.8 %. His wealth dropped from $7.4 billion in 2015 to 6.3 billion in 2016.

Awards and Recognitions

Apart from various honorary degrees he has bagged from universities, Rupert has various national and international awards round his shoulders. Some are:

  • Businessman of the Year: Sunday Times (1988 and 1996)
  • Businessman of the Year: Die Burger (1990)
  • S. Louw Award (1993)
  • Free Market Award (1999)
  • Most influential Business Leader in South Africa (2000)
  • MANEX Award: Wits Business School (2009)
  • Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur (France) 2009
  • International Wine Entrepreneur of the Year (2009)
  • South Africa’s Most Admired Business Leader (2010)