Jacob Rothschild, a wealthy financier, patron of the arts and philanthropist with close ties to Israel, who broke with his family’s legendary banking dynasty at a time of radical change in the world of high finance, has died. He was 87 years old.

His death was Announced on Monday by the Rothschild Foundation, a British charity of which he was president. He did not specify when or where he died nor did he give the cause of death.

Mr. Rothschild (more formally the 4th Baron Rothschild) was descended from Mayer Amschel Rothschild, a coin dealer in the Jewish ghetto of Frankfurt, who sent four of his five sons to Vienna, London, Naples and Paris to seek their fortunes in late of the 19th century. 18th century and early 19th century.

For most of the 19th century, the House of Rothschild was the largest bank in the world “by a wide margin,” wrote Jonathan Steinberg, an American academic, in The London Review of Books in 1999. The fortune of Nathan Mayer Rothschild, the son who founded the bank’s London branch, “can be compared to today’s Bill Gates,” Steinberg added.

Most accounts of the Rothschild wealth have their origins in a decision to fund the British army in the Napoleonic Wars. But the dynasty overall flourished by cementing its family ties and cultivating what Steinberg called “everyone who was at the top of European society during this period.”

It was in this historical context that Jacob Rothschild joined the London arm of the family empire at the bank NM Rothschild & Sons in 1963. Until then he had followed a route familiar to the British elite, educated at Eton College and Christchurch College, Oxford. .

At the time, the traditionally cautious, clubbing world of London high finance was still two decades away from a shift toward free capitalism that culminated in the so-called Big Bang of 1986, which brought about the deregulation of the London Stock Exchange.

And British commercial banks in the City, as London’s financial district is known, seemed eclipsed by the growing financial power of Wall Street, generating pressure for new approaches.

Rothschild had long been in favor of merging the London branch of his family’s financial empire with another commercial bank, SG Warburg, but the plan was opposed by his cousin Evelyn de Rothschild and his own father, Victor, a scientist and former member of the Britain’s MI5. intelligence agency.

Therefore, he decided to separate. “We must try to become both a brain bank and a money bank,” Rothschild said in 1965.

In a way, he was challenging a culture of family control and secrecy that had distinguished their dealings from the beginning.

As early as 1810, “family policy excluded female descendants and all sons-in-law from any participation in the business,” wrote scholar Steinberg. Each of the initial partners “waived his wife’s rights to view the accounts and swore to allow only direct male descendants to inherit shares.”

The Rothschilds’ marriage outside the Jewish faith was frowned upon; Marriage within the family was not unknown.

“Of 21 marriages involving descendants of Mayer Amschel between 1824 and 1877, no less than 15 were between his direct descendants,” Steinberg wrote.

While the family’s rules had been relaxed by the early 1960s, Rothschild’s proposals to merge with SG Warburg clashed head-on with tradition. For Victor and Evelyn de Rothschild, “preservation of family control took priority over expansion,” wrote British historian Niall Ferguson in his book “The House of Rothschild” (1998), a voluminous study of the family. The crash represented “a serious rift within the English branch of the family,” Ferguson wrote.

The dispute was not resolved until 1980, when the warring partners agreed that the family bank, NM Rothschild & Sons Ltd., would operate separately from Mr. Rothschild’s spun-off entity, J. Rothschild & Company, whose main assets would be known for their initials. : RIT, for Rothschild Investment Trust.

Rothschild retired as a director of RIT Capital Partners in 2019. That year, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimated his personal wealth to be more than $1 billion.

Nathaniel Charles Jacob Rothschild was born in Berkshire, England, on April 29, 1936, the son of Victor Rothschild, the 3rd Baron Rothschild, and his first wife, Barbara Judith (Hutchinson) Rothschild.

Mr Rothschild studied history at Oxford before joining the family bank. After resigning to run RIT, he became involved in a series of ventures, including an unsuccessful bid in 1989 with other investors to take over British American Tobacco for $21 billion.

He maintained a wide network of international connections, acting as vice-chairman of Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB Television and as an adviser to the then Prince Charles. He was a member of the International Advisory Board of Blackstone Group, a leading private equity group, and co-founded J. Rothschild Assurance Group in 1991, a wealth management firm now known as St. James’s Place.

Not all of his maneuvers were free of controversy. In 2003, British media reports said he had reached a trusteeship agreement with Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, a Russian oil tycoon and enemy of Putin, to transfer Khodorkovsky’s stake in the Yukos oil company to Rothschild in the event of his arrest. Khodorkovsky was arrested in October 2003 and subsequently exiled. Mr. Rothschild did not confirm the reports.

Parallel to his career as a high-powered financier, Rothschild played an energetic, if sometimes secretive, role in Israel, overseeing his family’s long-standing philanthropic activities there as director of the Yad Hanadiv foundation.

Over decades, the Rothschilds quietly sponsored major projects, including the construction of Parliament, the Supreme Court and the National Library of Israel, none of which were named after the family. “We have tried not to make the headlines,” Rothschild told The Jerusalem Report in 2012, adding: “Our tradition has been that we don’t shout from the rooftops what we are doing.”

He took over Yad Hanadiv after the death in 1988 of Dorothy de Rothschild, president of the foundation and his aunt. She bequeathed him property in Buckinghamshire, England.

Ownership of one of the properties, Waddesdon Manor, built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the 1880s in the style of a French chateau, had already been transferred to the nonprofit National Trust in 1957. But Mr. Rothschild reached an unusual agreement with the trust to manage the mansion as home to the Rothschild collection of approximately 15,000 works of art and objects, and for his personal collection of Rothschild wines, primarily from the Bordeaux region of France.

Mr Rothschild was a major benefactor of the mansion’s restoration and was involved in other ambitious projects, including the regeneration of Somerset House, an 18th-century building overlooking the River Thames in London. Among many arts-related positions in Britain and elsewhere, he chaired the board of directors of the National Gallery in London from 1985 to 1991.

Mr. Rothschild married Serena Dunn, a racehorse owner, in 1961; She died in 2019. He had four children, Hannah, Beth, Emily and Nathaniel, and several grandchildren. Complete information about his survivors was not immediately available.

Despite his position among the world’s wealthy elite, Rothschild was openly critical of some of his peers in the international financial system. In 2012, four years after the 2008 economic crisis, he told The Jerusalem Report that he had “a lot of sympathy for people who were protesting some of the excesses in the world of finance.”

“After all, there are people here who have made great fortunes, who have been in charge of a system that has been very detrimental to many interests in the last five to ten years,” he said. “They have made huge profits, but the banking system as a whole has had a chilling effect in several areas of the world.”

Victor Mather contributed with reports.