Born in 1951, Jonathan Ruffer is a City investor, art collector and also the UK’s most charitable philanthropist according to the Sunday Times giving List 2019. Born and raised in Yorkshire, Ruffer was educated at the prestigious Marlborough College in Wiltshire. In 1972, Ruffer graduated from Sidney Sussex College, a part of the elite University of Cambridge. From a stockbroker to a barrister, Ruffer went on to enjoy careers in some of the world’s best-known banks. Since the late 1980s, Ruffer has served on the board for a number of investment companies, such as Odey Asset Management and the Electric and General Investment Trust. Alongside an illustrious and highly successful career in asset management and investment, Ruffer is widely recognised as a philanthropist. According to the Sunday Times Giving List 2019, Ruffer donated £317.5 million to charitable causes in the sectors of community, art, social work and heritage.
Jonathan Ruffer and Bishop Auckland
Located in County Durham, in north east England, Bishop Auckland is a town with around 250,000 residents. Built and sustained by the coal industry, the town’s fortunes declined as the demand for coal waned during the latter part of the last century. When the Church of England decided to sell the town’s most famous paintings which were on display in Auckland Castle, Jonathan Ruffer decided to step in. After purchasing the paintings by Spanish master Francisco de Zurbaran, Ruffer also purchased Auckland Castle. Following three years of renovation, the almost-1000-year-old castle re-opened its doors to the public.
Speaking of his plans, Ruffer has stated, “I was on the lookout for some way to engage with somewhere in the North East. I’m not the slightest bit interested in visitor attractions, I’m only interested in regeneration.” So far, his investment in the town have given birth to an art museum documenting life in the coal mines, a Spanish art gallery, a glass-domed restaurant in the walled gardens of the castle.