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#431 Laurence Graff $4.42B

Random fact: Bought a diamond for $46 million in 2010.

Overview

Graff controls Graff Diamonds, a closely held jeweler with revenue of about $700 million in 2016. The London-based company was founded by Graff in 1960 and has sold gems to clients including Oprah Winfrey and the Sultan of Brunei. Graff has more than 50 stores worldwide, including about a dozen in China, three in Russia and two in Dubai.

As of July 26, 2017:
Last change -$30.8M (-0.7%)
YTD change +$356M (+8.8%)
Industry Consumer
Biggest asset Graff Diamonds Holdings
Citizenship United Kingdom
Age 78
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Laurence Graff's net worth of $4.42B can buy ...

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troy ounces of gold
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barrels of crude oil

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of the GDP of the United States
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of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
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of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
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of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
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of U.S. existing home sales
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times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Graff's fortune is derived from his control of closely held Graff Diamonds, which has more than 50 stores worldwide, according to its website. Its gem-selling subsidiary, Graff Diamonds International, had revenue of $570 million in 2016, according to its annual report. The whole company's 2011 consolidated financials were reported in a May 2012 initial public offering prospectus. Group financials, including revenue of about $700 million, are calculated by applying the growth rate of the gem subsidiary since 2011 to the business' consolidated numbers. The company also owns 15 percent of publicly traded Gem Diamonds, which is valued separately.

Graff holds a 60 percent stake in the business through Graff Diamonds Corp., a Cayman Islands-based holding company, according to the prospectus. The remainder is held in the name of his wife, Anne-Marie. Graff is credited with her stake because he controls the company's operational and strategic decisions and founded the company.

It's valued by the average price-to-book value multiple of three publicly traded peers: Tiffany, Prada and Brunello Cucinelli. The valuation was updated on June 14, 2017 to reflect the company's 2016 financial results.

The IPO prospectus also details several assets that were held directly by Graff, including the diamond inventory of Luxembourg-based wholesaler DiamondWorks and a 50 percent stake in Safdico, a gem procurement and polishing business. These assets were sold back to the company in a reorganization, according to its 2012 annual report. Sale prices for these assets were disclosed in the the prospectus and are included as part of his cash holdings along with a South African wine estate and an art collection, including works by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

Graff Diamonds' press office didn't respond to requests for comment.

Biography

Birthdate: 1938
Family: Married, 4 children

Laurence Graff was born in London's East End in 1938. He left school at 14 and became an apprentice for a jeweler in Hatton Garden, London's jewelry district. He began designing and selling his own precious gems at age 17. He founded Graff Diamonds in 1960, and set up his first retail store in London two years later. He opened a shop in the Knightsbridge neighborhood of central London in 1972, and began building a wealthy and high-profile client base that, by the 1980s, included the future Sultan of Brunei.

As his business expanded, Graff began to bid for some of the world's most celebrated stones, including the engagement ring that Edward VIII gave to his lover, Wallis Simpson, after he abdicated his role as U.K. monarch in 1936. Graff opened a flagship store on London's Bond Street in 1993, and moved to Switzerland seven years later as his diamond outlets spread worldwide.

Graff paid $46 million to acquire a 25-carat pink diamond in 2010, almost double the previous record price for a jewel at auction, which Graff had set two years earlier. The company announced plans for an initial public offering on the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2012 which valued it at more than $3 billion. The offering was canceled in March 2012, when weak stock markets reduced investor appetite.

Graff's wife, Anne-Marie, whom he married in 1963, holds a 40 percent stake in the company. The couple has three children, and their eldest son, Francois, serves as Graff's chief executive officer. Anne-Marie filed for divorce in London in March 2009 and canceled the proceedings after the couple reconciled. It was later reported by the Daily Mail and other British newspapers that Graff had been having an affair with jeweler Josephine Daniel, 37, who gave birth to his daughter in July 2009.

Milestones
  • 1938 Laurence Graff is born in the London's East End.
  • 1953 He took his first job, cleaning toilets, at 15.
  • 1955 Starts own business selling jewelry, aged 17.
  • 1974 Knightsbridge store is opened and attracts Middle-Eastern customers.
  • 2009 Thieves take jewels worth $60 million from Graff's Bond Street store.
  • 2009 British newspapers report his affair with a 37-year old jeweler.
  • 2010 Pays $46 million for a pink diamond, the highest auction price ever.
  • 2012 Postpones planned $1 billion public listing as stock markets fall.