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James Goldsmith

Sir James Goldsmith (1933 – 1997) was a British businessman and founder of the Euro-sceptic Referendum Party. The party stood for the United Kingdom general election, 1997, as part of which Goldsmith mass-mailed thousands of homes with a VHS tape expressing his ideas. It has been suggested [1] that he made plans to broadcast nationwide to the UK during the election from his own offshore pirate Referendum Radio station. In the 1997 election Goldsmith stood as a candidate in the London parliamentary constituency of Putney, against Tory cabinet minister David Mellor. Goldsmith stood no chance of victory, but the declaration made for one of the most memorable moments of the entire election – Mellor lost his seat to the Labour candidate and was subsequently taunted by Goldsmith and other candidates. Mellor however correctly predicted that the Referendum Party was "dead in the water", and it effectively died with Goldsmith when he succumbed to cancer a few months later.

In the mid-1990s he was a major financial backer of a leading Euro-sceptic thinktank, The European Foundation.

Goldsmith was married three times. His first wife was the Bolivian heiress Maria Isabel Patino, the 18-year-old daughter of Antenor Patino and his first wife, the Duchess of Durcal, a member of the Spanish royal family. With the heiress secretly pregnant and the Patinos insisting the pair separate for good, the couple eloped in January 1954. The marriage was tragically brief. Rendered comatose by a massive cerebral hemmorhage in her seventh month of pregnancy, Maria Isabel Goldsmith died in May 1954; her only child, Isabel, who survived, was delivered by Caesarian section. Goldsmith's second wife was Ginette Lery, with whom he had a son and daughter. In 1978 he married for the third time; his new wife was his mistress Lady Annabel Vane-Tempest-Stewart, daughter of the 8th Marquess of Londonderry; the couple had three children, Jemima (born 1974), Zak and Benjamin (born 1980). After his third marriage, Goldsmith embarked on yet another extramarital affair with an aristocratic Frenchwoman. Goldsmith is believed to have coined the phrase "When you marry your mistress you create a job vacancy."

Goldsmith died in 1997 of pancreatic cancer.

In 2003, his son Benjamin, married Kate Rothschild of the Rothschild family.

Business

Goldsmith dropped out of Eton College in 1949, observing, "a man of my means should not remain a schoolboy." His business successes included winning the British francise for Alka-Seltzer heartburn relief medicine and acquiring the Bovril company. He was also notable as a greenmail corporate raider; in the 1980s he made $90 million from his attempted hostile takeover of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. He retired from business dealings in 1987.

Goldsmith is also well known for his legendary legal attack on the magazine, Private Eye. In 1976 the millionaire issued over sixty libel writs against Private Eye and its distributors, and nearly bankrupted the magazine. This story is detailed in the book, Goldenballs!

Reference

Ingrams, Richard (1993). Goldenballs! London: Harriman House. ISBN 1897597037.

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