Benjamin Guggenheim - Biography
Benjamin Guggenheim (October 26, 1865 – April 15, 1912) was an American businessman. He died aboard when the ship sank near Cape Race, Newfoundland.
Benjamin Guggenheim was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the fifth of seven sons of the wealthy mining magnate Meyer Guggenheim (1828–1905) and Barbara Myers (1834–1900). In 1894, he married Florette Seligman (1870–1937), daughter of James Seligman, a senior partner in the firm J & W Seligman, and Rosa Seligman née Content. They had three daughters: Benita Rosalind Guggenheim (1895–1927), Marguerite "Peggy" Guggenheim (1898–1979) and Barbara Hazel Guggenheim (1903–1995).
While Guggenheim inherited a great deal of money from his father, he did not inherit his father's business acumen. His inheritance dwindled considerably from a number of poor investments. He grew distant from his wife and, ostensibly for business reasons, was frequently away from their New York City home. He maintained an apartment in Paris, France.
Aboard the Titanic
Guggenheim boarded the and was accompanied by his mistress, a French singer named Madame Léontine Aubart (1887–1964); his valet, Victor Giglio (1888–1912); his chauffeur, René Pernot (1872–1912); and Madame Aubart's maid, Emma Sägesser (1887–1964). His ticket was number 17593 and cost £79 4s (other sources give the price as £56 18s 7d). He and Giglio occupied stateroom cabin B82 while Aubart and Sägesser occupied cabin B35. Pernot occupied an unknown cabin in second class.
Guggenheim and Giglio slept through the Titanic's encounter with the iceberg only to be awakened just after midnight ship's time by Aubart and Sägesser, who had felt the collision. Sägesser later quoted Giglio as saying, "Never mind, icebergs! What is an iceberg?" Guggenheim was persuaded to awaken and dress; Bedroom Steward Henry Samuel Etches helped him on with a lifebelt and a heavy sweater before sending him, Giglio, and the two ladies up to the Boat Deck.
As Aubart and Sägesser reluctantly entered Lifeboat No. 9, Guggenheim spoke to the maid in German, saying, "We will soon see each other again! It's just a repair. Tomorrow the Titanic will go on again". Realizing that the situation was much more serious than he had implied, as well as realizing he was not going to be rescued, he then returned to his cabin with Giglio and the two men changed into evening wear. The two were seen heading into the Grand staircase closing the door behind them. He was heard to remark, "We've dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemens." He also gave a survivor a message saying, "Tell my wife, if it should happen that my secretary and I both go down, tell her I played the game out straight to the end. No woman shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim is a coward." Mr. Guggenheim and his valet were last seen seated in deck chairs in the Staircase sipping brandy and smoking cigars. Guggenheim, his valet Victor Giglio, went down with the ship. Their bodies, if recovered, were never identified. Guggenheim chauffeur René Pernot was also lost in the disaster.
Benjamin Guggenheim was one of the most prominent American victims of the Titanic disaster. As such, he has been a character in the numerous movies and television series depicting the sinking.
- Camillo Guercio (in an uncredited role) (1953) (Titanic)
- Harold Goldblatt (1958) (A Night to Remember)
- John Moffatt (1979) (S.O.S. Titanic) (TV movie)
- Michael Ensign (1997) (Titanic) Guggenheim is depicted being in the flooding Grand Staircase aboard the ship.
- David Eisner (2012) (Titanic) (TV series/2 episodes)
Guggenheim is possibly the inspiration for the character in the Italian animated series Huntik: Secrets & Seekers, the character in which shares the same name.
In the novel Last Tango in Aberystwyth by Malcolm Pryce, Ben Guggenheim's concern for others before himself as the Titanic was sinking was used as a moral compass.
- Guggenheim family
External links and references
- Encyclopedia Titanica Biography of Benjamin Guggenheim
- Benjamin Guggenheim on Titanic-Titanic.com
- Encyclopedia Titanica Biography of Emma Sägesser
- Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy, by John P. Eaton and Charles A. Haas, W.W. Newton & Company, 2nd edition 1995 ISBN 0-393-03697-9
- A Night to Remember, by Walter Lord, ed. Nathaniel Hilbreck, Owl Books, rep. 2004, ISBN 0-8050-7764-2