|Died||April 15, 1912 (aged 46)|
|Cause of death||Sinking of the RMS Titanic|
|Citizenship||American and German|
Peirce School of Business
|Spouse(s)||Florette Seligman (1894-1912) (his death)|
|Children||Benita Rosalind Guggenheim|
Barbara Hazel Guggenheim
Benjamin Guggenheim was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the fifth of seven sons of the wealthy mining magnate Meyer Guggenheim (1828–1905), and Barbara Myers (1834–1900), both originally from Lengnau, Aargau, Switzerland. The first member of his family to enter an institute of higher learning, he entered Columbia College in 1882, matriculating with the class of 1887. However, he found most of his course boring and dropped out after his second year. He also attended the Peirce School of Business (now Peirce College), then one of the most prominent business schools in the country. Guggenheim was Jewish. In 1894, he married Florette Seligman (1870–1937), daughter of James Seligman, a senior partner in the firm J. & W. Seligman & Co. and Rosa Seligman, née Content. Her family originated in Baiersdorf, Franconia, Germany. Together, they had three daughters: Benita Rosalind Guggenheim (1895–1927), Marguerite "Peggy" Guggenheim (1898–1979) and Barbara Hazel Guggenheim (1903–1995).
Guggenheim inherited a great deal of money from his mother. Due to business concerns, he grew distant from his wife and was frequently away from their New York City home. He maintained an apartment in Paris, France.
Aboard the Titanic
Guggenheim boarded the RMS Titanic and was accompanied by his mistress, a French singer named Léontine Aubart (1887–1964); his valet, Victor Giglio (1888–1912); his chauffeur, René Pernot (1872–1912); and Madame Aubart's maid, Emma Sägesser (1887–1964). His ticket was number 17593 and cost £79 4s (other sources give the price as £56 18s 7d). He and Giglio occupied stateroom cabin B84 while Aubart and Sägesser occupied cabin B35. Pernot occupied an unknown cabin in second class.
Guggenheim and Giglio slept through the Titanic's encounter with the iceberg only to be awakened just after midnight ship's time by Aubart and Sägesser, who had felt the collision. Sägesser later quoted Giglio as saying, "Never mind, icebergs! What is an iceberg?" Guggenheim was persuaded to awaken and dress, and bedroom steward Henry Samuel Etches helped fit him with a lifebelt and a heavy sweater before sending Guggenheim, Giglio, and the two women up to the boat deck.
As Aubart and Sägesser reluctantly entered Lifeboat No. 9, Guggenheim spoke to the maid in German, saying, "We will soon see each other again! It's just a repair. Tomorrow the Titanic will go on again." Realizing that the situation was much more serious than he had implied and that he was not going to be rescued, he returned to his cabin with Giglio and the two men changed into evening wear. Titanic survivor Rose Amelie Icard wrote in a letter, "The millionaire Benjamin Guggenheim after having helped the rescue of women and children, got dressed and put a rose at his buttonhole, to die." He was heard to remark, "We've dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen." Etches, who survived the sinking, recorded Guggenheim's message: "If anything should happen to me, tell my wife in New York that I've done my best in doing my duty." Etches reported that "shortly after the last few boats were lowered and I was ordered by the deck officer to man an oar, I waved good-bye to Mr. Guggenheim, and that was the last I saw of him and [Giglio]." Both men died in the sinking. Their bodies, if recovered, were never identified. Guggenheim's chauffeur Pernot was also lost in the disaster.
Guggenheim was among the most prominent American victims of the disaster. As such, he has been portrayed in numerous films, television series and a Broadway show based on the sinking:
- Camillo Guercio (in an uncredited role) in Titanic (1953)
- Harold Goldblatt in A Night to Remember (1958)
- John Moffatt in SOS Titanic (1979)
- Michael Ensign in Titanic (1997)
- "Guggenheim, Dying, Sent Wife Message". The New York Times. April 20, 1912. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
Efforts to find the body of Benjamin Guggenheim, who was the fifth of the seven Guggenheim brothers, as well as the bodies of other victims, will be made by the six surviving brothers.
- Barbara Myers Guggenheim
- University, Columbia (1897). Catalogue of Matriculants who Have Not Graduated, 1758-1897. Published for the University.
- Annual Register of the Officers and Students of Columbia College. New York City: Columbia College. 1884. p. 13.
- Davis, John H. (August 1994). The Guggenheims: An American Epic. SP Books. p. 201. ISBN 978-1-56171-351-6.
- Everts, Bart. "What do a wealthy Titanic passenger, a world tennis champion, and a 90's rapper have in common? Peirce College of course!". Retrieved June 25, 2020.
- Guggenheim-Seligman : New York Times (1894) – October 25, 1894
- "Benjamin Guggenheim". biography.com. Archived from the original on March 31, 2012. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
- "Guggenheim, Dying, Sent Wife Message". The New York Times. April 20, 1912. p. 9.
- Poppy Danby (March 21, 2014). "Titanic letter reveals new first-hand account of disaster". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
- "Titanic Letters Translated by email Reddit, Reveal Harrowing New Perspective on the Tragedy". The Huffington Post. March 21, 2014. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
- md28usmc (March 21, 2014). "REQUEST. I own the only set of letters written by Rose Amélie Icard (longest French living Titanic survivor) describing a first hand account of what happened as the Titanic sank. It's written in French and I would love to have it translated so I could have them framed". Reddit. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
- Encyclopedia Titanica Biography of Benjamin Guggenheim
- Benjamin Guggenheim on Titanic-Titanic.com
- Encyclopedia Titanica Biography of Emma Sägesser
- Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy, by John P. Eaton and Charles A. Haas, W.W. Newton & Company, 2nd edition 1995 ISBN 0-393-03697-9
- A Night to Remember, by Walter Lord, ed. Nathaniel Hilbreck, Owl Books, rep. 2004, ISBN 0-8050-7764-2