O So Connected


O So Connected

This diamond merchant has an eye for political deals.

By Jeanne Brokaw

#101 Maurice Tempelsman, 67, New York, N.Y. Party: D. $169,000 total contributions.

View Tempelsman’s itemized contributions.

Diamond broker Maurice Tempelsman is better recognized by the paparazzi than the populace. But less known than his role as the longtime companion of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is his reputation for high-level business diplomacy.

Since the 1950s, he has cultivated close relationships with leading statesmen from diamond-rich countries. He also counts many influential friends in Washington, and his staff has included a former CIA Africa division head.

Taking up his father’s New York diamond brokerage at an early age, the Belgian-born Tempelsman used Adlai Stevenson as a lawyer between Stevenson’s presidential bids. Through Stevenson, who as a supporter of African independence was immensely popular, Tempelsman gained valuable entrée to African nationalist circles just as independence movements were gaining momentum and unlocking old colonial grips on markets.

Still a Democratic donor by dint of cultural inertia, Tempelsman today has added things Russian to his interests. Last summer the Journal of Commerce reported that he had persuaded the U.S. Export-Import Bank to back a $54.5 million loan to a business partner who is Russia’s chief diamond miner.

As usual, his connections are flawless.

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