Armand Hammer

Armand Hammer (May 21, 1898December 10, 1990) was an enigmatic American industrialist and art collector. Hammer was CEO of the Occidental Petroleum Company, an oil and natural gas exploration and development company.

Born in Manhattan, New York, as a young man, Hammer attended medical school at Columbia University; he received his medical license in 1924 and, though he never practiced medicine, he relished being referred to as "Dr. Hammer."

Instead, after graduating from medical school, Hammer extended earlier entrepreneurial ventures with a successful business importing from and exporting pharmaceuticals to the newly-formed Soviet Union. He moved to the USSR in the 1920s to oversee these operations, especially his large business manufacturing and exporting inexpensive pencils. After returning to the US, he invested in Occidental Petroleum, and continued personal and business dealings with the Soviet Union, despite Cold War taboos against such dealings by Americans. In later years he lobbied for peace between America and the Communist countries of the world.

Politically, Hammer was a staunch supporter of the Republican party. He boosted Richard Nixon's presidential campaign with tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions. He was convicted for this, but later pardoned by President George H. W. Bush. Simultaneously, the Hammers' name was widely used in propaganda by the Soviets. The discrepancy between Hammer's open sympathy for the Soviet Union and his success as a capitalist, as well as his involvement in international affairs and politics, have made Hammer a subject of suspicion and conspiracy theory for the American right wing; his close relationship with former Democratic Tennessee Senator Albert Gore, Sr. has been the subject of especially broad scrutiny and speculation.

Hammer was also an avid collector of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. His personal donation forms the core of the permanent collection of the UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, California.

Despite popular myth, the relation between Hammer's name and the household product Arm and Hammer baking soda is coincidental. The pun was not lost on Hammer, though: during the 1980s, he attempted to buy Church and Dwight, makers of the Arm and Hammer line of products; he succeeded in buying a sizeable minority interest and eventually sat on its board of directors.

He wrote that his father Julius Hammer had named him after a character, Armand Duval, in La Dame aux Camlias by Alexandre Dumas, fils. In fact, according to a biographer, Carl Blumay, his former press agent of many years, Armand Hammer was named after the "Arm and Hammer" symbol of the Socialist Labor Party; this party was led by, among others, Julius Hammer. (After the Russian Revolution, a part of the SLP under Julius' leadership split off to become a founding element of the Communist Party of the USA.)

Hammer was a philanthropist, supporting causes related to education, medicine, and the arts. Among his legacies is the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West (now generally called the UWC-USA, part of the United World Colleges). He embraced a kind of Victorian view of world affairs, in which personal relationships could overcome geopolitical tensions. Through the mid-1980s, he tried to make his own life a model of this, and bragged that he was the only man to have known both Vladimir Lenin and Ronald Reagan.

His generosity and diplomacy were recognized around the world, and by the time he died, Hammer had won the Soviet Union's Lenin Order of Friendship Among the Peoples, the U.S. National Arts Medal, France's Legion of Honor, Italy's Grand Order of Merit, Sweden's Royal Order of the Polar Star, Austria's Knight Commander's Cross, Pakistan's Hilal-i-Quaid-Azam Peace Award, Israel's Leadership Award, Venezuela's Order of Andres Bellos, Mexico's National Recognition Award, Bulgaria's Jubilee Medal, and Belgium's Order of the Crown. Hammer hungered for a Nobel Peace Prize, and was nominated for one in 1988, but lost to the Dalai Lama and was not nominated again.

He also appeared on The Cosby Show, saying that a cure for cancer was imminent. His confidence was not justified, as he died of bone marrow cancer in December 1990.ja:アーマンド・ハマー


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