The Seagrams Family of Drinks

Seagram heiress embroiled in sex trafficking case
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Seagram Company Ltd. (formerly traded as Seagram's) was a Canadian multinational conglomerate formerly headquartered in Montreal, Quebec. Originally a distiller of Canadian whisky based in Waterloo, Ontario, it was once ( in the s) the largest owner of alcoholic beverage lines in the world. The Bronfman family sold the Seagram building to TIAA for $ million in. The Bronfman family is a Canadian-American Jewish family. It owes its initial fame to Samuel Bronfman (–), who made a fortune in the alcoholic distilled beverage business during the 20th century through the family's Seagram .

Click to view more. The Prosecco Masters View Results. Edgar Bronfman, the former chairman of Seagram, who has died aged 84, dramatically expanded the prohibition era drinks company founded by his father; he was also a major activist in Jewish causes. From humble beginnings as Eastern European immigrants to Canada in the s, the family rose to great wealth in the heart of New York, where the Mies van der Rohe skyscraper that bears the Seagram name remains an icon of corporate power.

But that building was sold to an insurance company in , and a decade later Edgar Bronfman announced that his son, Edgar Jr, would succeed him.

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Over the following 10 years, Edgar Jr sought to transform Seagram into a global media company. The venture cost billions of dollars, sharply diminished the Bronfman family fortune, and spelt the end of Seagram as a drinks business. Soon, however, he stopped commenting. Sam Bronfman, a short-tempered, driven man, set up a mail-order alcohol distribution company with his brother, Allan.

When alcohol sales were taken into government administration, the pair moved into alcohol production, building their own distillery in and acquiring others near the border with America, then under prohibition. By then Sam Bronfman was already a wealthy man and the palatial house where Edgar grew up was thick with housemaids, chauffeurs and other staff.

The Bronfmans: The Rise and Fall of the House of Seagram

Charles Craig. Major Ivan Straker. How much, if any, of the family fortune was built on bootlegging was not clear, Edgar Bronfman later noted. The following years proved a golden period for the company, with it coming to occupy a dominant position in the American drinks business; in the Seagram building on Park Avenue was completed. If Edgar had little training in management and could be wayward in risk-taking, he had a refined palate which enabled him to detect tiny flaws in consignments of whiskey, and helped him pick blends that would sell.

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Sam Bronfman died in His marriage collapsed shortly afterwards, then in his eldest son, Sam, was kidnapped. Whether or not Edgar Bronfman believed the story, he passed over Sam when anointing his successor, settling instead on his second son, Edgar Jr. Having built up a substantial minority stake in the chemical company Du Pont in the course of the s, which gave Seagram a relentless dividend income on which to build, the business he handed over appeared almost bullet-proof.

PolyGram was another acquisition, but the huge new company began to struggle. Looking for a partner, Edgar Jr piloted a merger with the French company Vivendi, becoming chief executive of Vivendi Universal before stepping down in Shortly before Seagram acquired Warner Music Group in the company sold the drinks business which had been its foundation.

Increasingly Edgar Bronfman Sr devoted himself to the World Jewish Congress, of which he had become president in In the s this work involved several trips behind the Iron Curtain to the Soviet Union.

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But the force that drove Samuel Bronfman to build a small-town distillery into an international liquor empire was the burning desire to be socially accepted. But Bronfman wouldn't live to see those dreams come true. Retrieved 24 December Views Read Edit View history. Those divested--which included Lord Calvert Canadian Whiskey, Wolfschmidt Vodka, and Ronrico Rum--were mid-range brands, and Seagram wished to concentrate on higher-margin premium brands, such as Crown Regal.

Bronfman succeeded in getting authorities there to improve treatment of Jews, and allow freer emigration. The WJC also pursued compensation cases for countless Jewish families whose savings had been placed with Swiss banks before the war. Edgar Bronfman was married five times.