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date: 10 December 2019

Beit, Sir Otto (John)locked

(b Hamburg, Dec 7, 1865; d London, Dec 7, 1930).
  • Janet Southorn

Extract

(John)

(b Hamburg, Dec 7, 1865; d London, Dec 7, 1930).

British industrialist, collector and philanthropist of German birth. He became a financier in Britain in 1888. He succeeded to the considerable fortune of his brother Alfred Beit (1853–1906), who had been an industrialist in South Africa, where he had been instrumental in the reorganization of the Kimberley diamond mines. Otto became notable for his philanthropic and educational activities, both in South Africa (foundation of Groote Schuur University, Cape Town) and in Britain (benefactions to the newly-founded Imperial College, London). His services were recognized by the award of a knighthood in 1920 and a baronetcy in 1924.

The Beit collections were begun c. 1888 by Alfred Beit. A small part was dispersed by the terms of his will; it included Lady Cockburn and her Three Eldest Sons by Joshua Reynolds, bequeathed to the National Gallery, London. The rest of the collections were inherited by Otto, who proceeded to enlarge them: both he and his brother benefited from the advice and help of the German art historian ...

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Dictionary of National Biography, 63 vols and suppls (London, 1885–)