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Benjamin Guggenheim

Benjamin Guggenheim (1865 -1912), American businessman

Benjamin Guggenheim was born on October 26, 1865 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the fifth of the seven sons of the colossally wealthy mining magnate, Meyer Guggenheim (1828-1905).

- Benjamin Guggenheim -
In 1894 he married Floretta Seligman, daughter of a prominent New York City banker with whom he had three daughters: 1) Benita, 2) Peggy, and 3) Hazel.

While Benjamin Guggenheim inherited a great deal of money from his father, he did not inherit his father’s business acumen and Benjamin Guggenheim’s inheritance dwindled considerably from a number of poor investments. He grew distant from his wife and ostensibly for business reasons, was frequently away from their New York City home. He maintained an apartment in Paris, France and was returning home from there when he boarded the RMS Titanic at Cherbourg, Manche, France on April 10, 1912 accompanied by his mistress, a French singer named Ms. Léontine Aubart (1887-1964).

After the luxury liner collided with an iceberg and began to sink, word came that there were only half the number of lifeboats needed for all passengers. Faced with certain death, after ensuring Ms. Aubart and her maid, Ms. Emma Sägesser, were safely in a lifeboat, Benjamin Guggenheim and his valet returned their lifebelts to a steward and returned to their suites to change into formal evening wear.

Benjamin Guggenheim is famous for these comments made while the liner was about to go down: "We've dressed in our best, and are prepared to go down like gentlemen." He later said to a steward: "Tell my wife I did my best in doing my duty."

Dressed in formal evening attire, at approximately two o’clock in the morning of April 15, 1912, Benjamin Guggenheim and his valet sat in chairs on the deck, sipping brandy and smoking cigars while the Titanic sank.