Leonard Alan Lauder was born in 1933 in New York City, where he grew up and helped his mother as she founded what would become The Estée Lauder Companies business out of the family’s kitchen. According to Forbes, Leonard is the 68th richest person in the world with a net worth of $USD 23.2 Billion. Leonard and his brother, Ronald Lauder, are the sole heirs to the Estée Lauder Companies cosmetics fortune, founded by their parents, Estée Lauder and Joseph Lauder, in 1946.
- After attending Bronx High School of Science, Leonard goes to college and graduates from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
In his autobiography, The Company I Keep: My Life in Beauty, Leonard writes about not completing his MBA program at Columbia Graduate School for Business:
“I had attended the Columbia Graduate School for Business and was three credits shy of my MBA before joining the Navy. I promised myself that I would complete graduate school when I finished my Navy service. But after three years at sea and seeing the world through a new lens, I was ready to get to work at Estée Lauder, not go back to school. I never did get an MBA degree, but I don’t think I missed anything. I learned just as many practical lessons from my father.”
Joining Estée Lauder
After serving in the U.S. Navy as a lieutenant and later a Navy reservist, Leonard officially joined the Estée Lauder company in 1958. He focused on growing the business and building the company’s research and development laboratory. Proving himself an industry pioneer and true business innovator, He served as President from 1972 to 1995, CEO from 1982 to 1999, Chairman from 1995 to 2009, and, finally, as Chairman Emeritus. In over five decades of leadership, he transformed the company from a small brand with eight products sold in one country, to a multi-brand, beloved global icon.
Lauder stepped down as CEO in 1999. He is now chairman emeritus and is known around the company as “Chief Teaching Officer.”
Leonard Lauder was married to Evelyn H. Lauder (founder, Breast Cancer Research Foundation [BCRF]) from 1959 until she passed away in 2011. They had two sons, William (Executive Chairman, The Estée Lauder Companies) and Gary (Managing Director, Lauder Partners LLC), and five grandchildren.
On January 1, 2015, Mr. Lauder married Judy Ellis Glickman, a philanthropist and internationally recognized photographer whose work is represented in more than 300 public and private collections, including the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Whitney, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the United States Holocaust Museum.
- He and his brother, Ronald, co-chair the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, which has awarded over $150 million to fund trials in 19 countries.
- 1992: A breast cancer survivor herself, Leonard’s wife Evelyn launches the company’s Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Campaign and establishes the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).
- Since the passing of his wife Evelyn in 2011, he has also worked to carry on her legacy in the fight against breast cancer as honorary chairman of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and as a significant supporter of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
- He serves as Chairman Emeritus of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
- He has also made significant contributions to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, including his promised gift of 78 Cubist paintings, drawings, and sculptures.
Leonard Lauder gifted his massive Cubist art collection, worth more than $1 billion, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2013.
- In concert with his promised gift, he helped establish the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art, a center dedicated exclusively to promoting modern art within an encyclopedic museum.
- A lifelong learner and foreign policy advocate, he is a Charter Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, a Trustee of The Aspen Institute, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and also served on the White House Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations.
- After the passing of their father, Leonard and his brother Ronald S. Lauder found the Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management & International Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in tribute to him.
- The French Légion d’Honneur, the “Lone Sailor” Award, given by the United States Navy Supply Corps Foundation, the Lincoln Center Corporate Fund’s Women’s Leadership Award, and the Palazzo Strozzi Renaissance Man of the Year Award.
- The Lauder family received the esteemed 2011 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in recognition of its long-standing commitment to philanthropy and public service.
- In 2014, Mr. Lauder was named a Living Landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy.
- Mr. Lauder and Ms. Glickman Lauder received the Gordon Parks Foundation Patron of the Arts Award in 2016.
Leonard publishes his memoir The Company I Keep: My Life in Beauty, where he shares the business and life lessons he learned while turning the business his mother founded into a global icon.