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Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Andean Rockefeller

Simón Iturri Patiño (Santiváñez, 1 June 1862 – Buenos Aires, 20 April 1947) was a Bolivian industrialist who was among the world's wealthiest people at the time of his death. With a fortune built from ownership its majority from the tin industry in Bolivia, Patiño was nicknamed "The Andean Rockefeller". During World War II, Patiño was believed to be one of the five wealthiest men in the world.

Patiño's biographers are not in agreement on the details of his early life. Many wrote that he was a cholo, with a mixed Quechua and Spanish heritage, and born to a poor mother, while his authorized biography holds that he was solely of European ancestry, and the son of a provincial leader. He was actually the illegitimate son of Eugénio Iturri, a Basque man and his mother was María Patiño, from Cochabamba. Before entering the mining industry, he managed a store in Oruro and a few years spent years in private schools.

Eventually, Patiño started in mining with Hunanchaca Compaby of Bolivia, a silver company, and then with Fricke y Compañía. Patiño was assigned to collections for the store, and in 1894, he agreed to accept a deed of land in compromise for a $250 debt owed by a prospector. The deed turned out to be the rocky side of a mountain and Patiño was fired from his job for settling an account in exchange for a worthless piece of property. Legend has it that Patiño was forced to pay back the store from his own funds, and was stuck with his own bad bargain.

The mountain, located near Llallagua, turned out to be richer in minerals than anyone had imagined. Although the first several years of work yielded a little, the turning point came in 1900 when Patiño located a very rich vein of tin, later called "La Salvadora" (The Savior). Over the next 10 years he built up the control of nearby mines and other important mines in Bolivia, including Catavi, Siglo XX, Uncia and Huanuni. By the 1920s he had also bought out Chilean interests in his mining company and went on to buy tin smelters in England and Germany. By the 1940s he controlled the international tin market and was one of the wealthiest men in the world, hence his "title" The Tin King (Rey del Estaño).

In his 2008 book "Outliers", Malcolm Gladwell estimated the total net worth of Simon I. Patiño around USD 81.2 billion in 2008 dollars. That amount placed him in number 26 of all time wealthiest individuals in human history, ahead of Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, Warren Buffet and J.P. Morgan.

Patiño had been living between Europe and Bolivia since around 1912. In 1924, following a heart attack, his doctors told him not to return to Bolivia and he moved abroad permanently, first to Paris, then to New York and finally to Buenos Aires where he died, close to the homeland he was so fond of and wanted so desperately to return to. 

Among the many gifts that Patiño did to his wife when he was alive was the Palacio Portales in Cochabamba (which was begun in 1912) is one of the most luxurious; however, the family never lived there. The entrepreneur's widow moved to Villa Albina.

The Portales Palace was designed by French architect Eugène Bliault. The construction has an eclectic style, mixing the French Arabic trend, and Italian in different rooms. One of the halls is a replica of the library at the Vatican, for example. Statues of Roman emperors, female figures simulating the four seasons, the zodiacal signs, plus cherubs and angels, are combined in the decoration of the rooms, giving the impression that one is inside a huge kaleidoscope.'

(For more photos of The Palace click THIS LINK )

The mirrors and gold multiply everywhere, and it seems that the salons have a dispute with each other over which one is more luxurious. In the main hall presentations, conferences, concerts, tributes, etc. are presented. This large room has a unique sound, so most piano recitals are held there.

The huge mansion, considered one of the most important cultural heritage of the country, which took six years to build, this place was never properly inhabited, although planned in detail by Patiño. He even instructed to built public showers for residents of the area, so they could use them and so ingratiate himself with them.

Shortly before his death, and already knowing he had a heart disease, Patiño decided to create the Foundation that bears his name to this day, especially to please her two daughters who were very attached to bolivian culture.

Patiño is without doubt the greatest industrialist Bolivia has ever had. His substantial wealth made him powerful in Bolivian politics and he was locally both admired and hated. Previous to a political shift away from his allies in the government, Patiño merged the company owning his Bolivian tin property with a British company active in Malaysia.

Patiño died in 1947 and was buried in the city of Cochabamba high in the bolivian mountains of his birth place in a white mausoleum. This mausoleum is in the property where a small cottage was builded for his wife, this property is called Villa Albina. 

-If you want to see pictures of Villa Albina visit THIS link
-If you want to see pictures of The Portales Palace visit THIS link

(Source: Wikipedia and Los Tiempos - 
Photography by { 7 Fotos }

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