Until 1938, Ephrussi’s financial empire in Europe was inferior in size only to the Rothschilds’. A partnership between these two families was established and eventually they became related after the marriage of Beatrice Rothschild and Maurice Ephrussi, the youngest son of the founder of the dynasty, merchant of the 1st guild from Berdychiv, Joachim Ephrussi.
Having started with the grain trade, the trading house “Ephrussi and Co” later on expanded its influence on the railways, Baku oil fields, as well as occupied a prominent place in the banking sector, and finally by the end of the 19th century became one of the most influential trading houses in Europe.
Legends circulated about the enormous size of Ephrussi’s fortune, which were not always groundless. The Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa, located in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, which was left by Beatrice to the French Academy of Fine Arts still adorns the entire French Riviera. An equally impressive palace, also bearing the name of Ephrussi, was erected in Vienna on Ringstrasse by Joachim’s son Ignace, who as his father was born in Berdychiv.
In 1862, when Vienna was severely damaged by flooding, Ignace Ephrussi donated a large amount of money for the restoration of bridges over the Danube and the construction of embankments.
Ephrussi’s help was so substantial that the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I of Habsburg granted Ignace the title “Baron” and the knightly name of Ritter. Since then, the native of Berdychiv began to be called Ignace Ritter von Ephrussi.