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 Post subject: Baron Phillippe de Rothschild (a.k.a. George Philippe)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 5:28 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:26 am
Posts: 146
Location: Boulder, CO
I would like to learn more about the history of Baron Philippe de Rothschild. I understand he raced under the name of George Philippe. With his history in both Bugatti racing and wine making, I am sure he was quite a personality. In particular, I am interested to learn about his racing history in T37's in 1927 and 1928. I will post below an article in Pur Sang on the 1928 Bugatti Grand Prix where he placed 2nd. Also, would anyone know what chassis number he raced in the 1928 Bugatti Grand Prix?

Here is a history from Wiki:

Baron Philippe de Rothschild (13 April 1902 – 20 January 1988) was a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty who became a Grand Prix race-car driver, a screenwriter and playwright, a theatrical producer, a film producer, a poet, and one of the most successful wine growers in the world.

Early life
Born in Paris, Georges Philippe de Rothschild was the younger son of Baron Henri James de Rothschild (1872–1947) (who was a noted playwright under the name André Pascal) and Mathilde Sophie Henriette von Weissweiller (1872–1926). At the outbreak of World War I, 12-year-old Philippe was sent to the safety of the family's vineyard in the village of Pauillac in the Médoc. There, he developed a love of the country and the wine business, an enterprise in his family since 1853, but one his father and grandfather had shown little interest in.

As a young man, in sharp contrast to the Rothschild family's staid aristocratic traditions, Philippe de Rothschild became a larger-than-life personality. He was only twenty years old when he took over the operations of the Château Mouton Rothschild vineyards and two years later, in 1924, came up with the unheard of idea of bottling the entire vintage at the Château, an idea that other producers of Premier Cru wines soon copied. Previously, vineyards sold their wines in bulk, leaving the maturing, bottling, labeling and marketing to be handled by the wine merchants. Philippe de Rothschild's idea was to maintain control over the quality of his product and allow marketing of the brand name. Two years later, he developed a de facto price-fixing arrangement among other top Bordeaux producers.

During the 1920s, Philippe lived the life of a wealthy playboy, often found in the company of a beautiful woman, usually an actress, at one of the popular night spots in Paris. Philippe's older brother had made friends with Robert Benoist when they served together in the Armée de l'Air during World War I and through this connection, for a short time young Philippe took up Grand Prix motor racing. From his father, he inherited the love of fast cars, but wishing to maintain a low profile Philippe used the pseudonym "Georges Philippe" in order to race anonymously.

In 1928, he first competed in the Paris-to-Nice race, after which he purchased a new Bugatti and entered a Grand Prix event at Le Mans. In 1929 he competed in a number of races, including the first-ever Grand Prix of Monaco where he finished a respectable fourth to winner William Grover-Williams. Three weeks later, he went to Dijon, where he scored his first victory in the Grand Prix de Bourgogne. However, with his increasing fame, the media began to question exactly who this "Georges Philippe" was, so Philippe de Rothschild dropped out of the racing scene, competing only one more time in the 1930 24 hours of Le Mans. In 1935, Rothschild and his friend, Jean Rheims, who were sponsoring a bobsled team, refused to participate in the 1936 Winter Olympics at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, protesting what they called the "persecution of Germans of Jewish religion."

Wine grower
Despite the time spent racing automobiles and producing the 1932 film Lac-aux-Dames, the first French "talkie" to gain international recognition (adapted from a novel by Vicki Baum and directed by Marc Allegret, it had a script by Colette and starred Jean-Pierre Aumont and Simone Simon), the energetic Philippe de Rothschild still devoted his energies and innovation to Château Mouton Rothschild in Pauillac. Upon harvesting a crop he considered not up to the high standards of his vineyard, he chose not to sell that year's vintage under the Château label. In 1932 Philippe de Rothschild began to sell this second-string vintage as a good low-cost Bordeaux under the name "Mouton Cadet". The product became so successful that he eventually had to purchase grapes from vineyards throughout the Bordeaux region just to meet the demand. Today, Mouton Cadet is the number-one-selling red wine in the world.

In 1933 Philippe expanded the Mouton-Rothschild estates with the acquisition of the neighboring Château d'Armailhac. By the late 1930s, the wines of Mouton Rothschild were recognized as among the world's best. Nonetheless, the Mouton vineyard was still rated as a "Second Growth" as a result of the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 (reputedly due to the vintner's Anglo-Jewish heritage) and Philippe de Rothschild began a lifelong mission to change this judgment.

In 1934, Philippe de Rothschild married Elisabeth Pelletier de Chambure (1902–1945), the former wife of Jonkheer Marc de Becker-Rémy, a Belgian nobleman. They had two children: Philippine Mathilde Camille de Rothschild (born 22 November 1933) and Charles Henri de Rothschild (born and died 1938).

Rothschild's late-in-life memoirs (Milady Vine, written in collaboration with his companion, the British director Joan Littlewood) describe a marriage of great passion but also enormous tempestuousness and despair. The couple's difficulties increased when their only son was born tragically deformed and died soon after birth. They eventually separated, and the baron's wife reverted to her maiden name.

World War II
The outbreak of World War II had serious consequences for the entire Rothschild family, who were Jewish. Following the German occupation of France, Philippe de Rothschild's parents fled to the safety of Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Paris mansion where they had lived became the headquarters for the German Naval Command.

Although he was called up to serve in the French Air Force, the quick fall of France resulted in Philippe being arrested in Algeria by the Vichy government and the vineyard property seized. His French citizenship was revoked on 6 September 1940 for what The New York Times described as "having left France without official permission or a valid reason."[1] Released from custody on 20 April 1941, Philippe de Rothschild made his way to England, where he joined the Free French Forces of General Charles de Gaulle, earning a Croix de Guerre medal.[2] Philippe's wife Elizabeth never believed any harm would come to her because she was from an old French family. On his return to France following the Allies' liberation, Philippe de Rothschild learned that although his daughter was safe, the Gestapo had deported his estranged wife in 1941 to Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she died—the reason of her death remains unresolved—on March 23, 1945.

After war
Devastated, Rothschild had to deal with problems at his vineyard as well. The departing German army had done considerable damage to Chateau Mouton Rothschild and the property was in need of considerable repair. Together with dedicated employees, he put his energy into restoring the vineyard and by the early 1950s was once again producing wine.

At the same time, the multi-talented Rothschild returned to participation in the theatrical world, teaming up with Gaston Bonheur to write in both English and French the play Lady Chatterley's Lover. Based on the D. H. Lawrence novel, their play was later made into a motion picture starring Danielle Darrieux. In 1952 Rothschild and Bonheur wrote the script for the film La Demoiselle et son revenant. Philippe de Rothschild was an accomplished poet and in 1952 his poem Vendage inspired Darius Milhaud to write a three-act ballet for the Paris Opéra. He also translated Elizabethan poetry and the plays of Christopher Fry.

In 1954, Rothschild married a longtime mistress, Pauline Fairfax Potter (1908–1976), a Paris-born American who had been the head fashion designer at Hattie Carnegie. After their marriage, she used her aesthetic talents to help restore an old storage building on the estate, converting it into a magnificent home, and became known as a tastemaker in the worlds of fashion and interior design.

In 1973, Château Mouton Rothschild became the only French vineyard to ever achieve reclassification to First Growth, thanks to decades of relentless lobbying. Subsequently, the owner of Château d'Yquem sued unsuccessfully to have the reclassification reversed as illegitimate. After his Mouton Rothschild lost to a California wine in the Judgment of Paris, he "phoned one of the judges and asked haughtily, 'What are you doing to my wines? It took me forty years to become classified as First Growth!'"

Rothschild purchased Château Clerc Milon, a fifth-growth classified vineyard strategically located next to his own property. After achieving his lifelong goal with the 1973 upgrading of Chateau Mouton Rothschild to Premier Cru status, and after the historic results of the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, he began looking beyond France for wine-growing opportunities and in 1980 announced a joint venture with the respected American wine grower, Robert Mondavi, to form the Opus One Winery in Oakville, California.

In 1997, under the direction of Rohschild's daughter Philippine, Château Mouton-Rothschild teamed up with Concha y Toro of Chile to produce a Cabernet Sauvignon based, Bordeaux-style red wine in a new winery built in Chile's Maipo Valley, the Almaviva.

Baron Philippe de Rothschild remained active in the wine business until he died in 1988 at the age of 85, whereupon its reins were taken up by his daughter, who has also achieved acclaim as a theatre actress under the stage name "Philippine Pascal".

As an offshoot of self-bottling, Philippe also came up with the idea of having his labels designed by famous artists. In 1946, this became a prominent and traditional part of the vineyard's image, with labels created by great painters and sculptors such as Jean Cocteau, Leonor Fini, Henry Moore, Marie Laurencin, Georges Braque, Salvador Dalí, Jacques Villon, Pierre Alechinsky, Joan Miró, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, César, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Andy Warhol, and other notables.

In 1962 at Mouton the Rothschilds created the Museum of Wine in Art; here a priceless collection of art works covering three millennia of wine are on display, including original art by Pablo Picasso and rare glassware.


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