When he died 10 years ago, Julio Mario Santo Domingo was worth more than $8bn. He was Colombia’s dashing merchant prince, writes STUART HUSBAND, the head of a family whose financial and social eminence has flowed on a river of amber nectar…
Alejandro Santo Domingo, the current de facto head of the family, at his wedding to Charlotte Wellesley, the daughter of the Duke of Wellington, in 2016 (Photo by Europa Press/Europa Press via Getty Images)

In the final weeks of 2011, obituarists abruptly found themselves caught up in a pre-Christmas rush: two billionaires had died within two days of each other. There was no shortage of archive material on the first: Steve Jobs, the roll-necked, dad-jeaned Apple guru who had led his company to world domination and whose worth, according to Forbes, was $8.3bn. The second subject couldn’t have provided a starker contrast: Julio Mario Santo Domingo was fiercely private where Jobs was public, and exquisitely tailored where Jobs was doggedly casual. He was an urbane industrialist who spoke six languages and wrote poetry and short stories on the side. Yet the prime source of his fortune, making him the first Colombian to break into the ranks of the ultra-high-net worthies, was beer. So much so, in fact, that Forbes ranked him $100m ahead of Jobs at the time of his death.


Stuart Husband


April 2021


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