Felix Rohatyn received the insignia of Grand Officer of the Lagion d'Honneur from François Delattre, Ambassador, in 2012.

Felix G. Rohatyn, banker and diplomat, francophone and francophile, died Saturday in New York at the age of 91.

It was the serious financial crisis in New York that in the 1970s brought this banker to the public eye. Nicknamed "the savior of New York", he had organized the plan which allowed the city to escape bankruptcy. Bill Clinton later appointed him ambassador to France, a post he held from 1997 to 2000.

Felix Rohatyn’s story with France began long before his appointment as ambassador. Born in Austria to a family of wealthy bankers, he moved to France at the age of 6 in 1934, his family fleeing the rise of Nazism. He lived there part of his childhood, schooled in particular at the Janson-de-Sailly high school, until his mother, remarried, decided to flee France invaded in 1940 to leave for Casablanca then Rio, before arriving in the States United in 1942.

Felix Rohatyn returned to France after the war, still a student, to find his father and work in the brewery he owned. But it was mainly thanks to his French connections that he met the man who would become his mentor, the banker and boss of the American branch of Lazard, André Meyer. Hired, he quickly rose through the ranks and became a king of “deal-making " at Lazard. But he refused André Meyer's numerous requests to succeed him, notably to be able to continue playing a public role in New York and elsewhere, and supported the appointment of the Franco-American Michel David-Weill in 1977.

But without being the boss, he remained one of Lazard's heavyweights, playing a leading role in many of the biggest mergers and acquisitions of the 1980s and 1990s. His political ambitions did not come true at the time. same height. Supporting billionaire Ross Perot, an independent candidate in 1992, he failed to become Secretary of State for Bill Clinton, the winner of the election. The Democratic President finally appointed him ambassador to Paris in 1997. He notably distinguished himself there by advocating the cause of economic liberalism and fighting against what he considered to be the caricature perceived in France.

During their stay in Paris, he and his wife Elizabeth created FRAME (French Regional and American Museum Exchange), an organization aimed at encouraging collaborations between French and American museums. When the Rohatyns left the Embassy, ​​FRAME became a non-governmental organization, co-chaired by Elizabeth Rohatyn until her death in 2016. The organization remains active today.

Throughout his life, he had kept very strong ties with France and the French community in New York, supporting numerous philanthropic activities. He has been a member of numerous boards of directors of large French companies (LVMH, Lagardère, Suez, Publicis, etc.). He was made Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor in 2012.

Felix Rohatyn is survived by three sons, Pierre, Nicolas and Michael and six grandchildren.


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