Baron Elie de Rothschild, uncle to and predecessor of current Château Lafite Rothschild head Baron Eric de Rothschild, died Aug. 6 of a heart attack at a hunting lodge he owned in Austria. He was 90 years old.
Rothschild, who was a prisoner of war in World War II, took over the family wine company after the war in 1946. He worked to restore the estate after it had been taken over by the Nazis during their occupation of France. Elie is credited with not only restoring the vineyards and the buildings on the Lafite property, but the subsequent success of the 1947 and 1949 vintages from Lafite. Elie handed Lafite-Rothschild off to Baron Eric, his nephew, in the mid-1970s.
Like many other members of the Rothschild family, Elie spent much of his time working as a banker. However, his business acumen was considered by many to be a weakness, as the quality of Lafite's wine is perceived by some to have suffered during his 28-year tenure. His nephew, Eric de Rothschild, is credited with the estate's resurgence as well as its expansion to other countries, such as its operations in Languedoc, Portugal and Chile.
Elie and his wife, Liliane, whom he married in 1942, assembled a vast art collection that included works by Rembrandt and Picasso. Many of the paintings were donated to the Louvre museum in Paris.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions