Basil Zaharoff
Basil Zaharoff

Celebrity Profile

Name: Basil Zaharoff
Occupation: Entrepreneur
Gender: Male
Birth Day: October 6, 1849
Death Date: Nov 27, 1936 (age 87)
Age: Aged 87
Country: Turkey
Zodiac Sign: Libra

Social Accounts

Height: in centimeters - N/A
Weight: in kg - N/A
Eye Color: N/A
Hair Color: N/A
Blood Type N/A
Tattoo(s) N/A

Basil Zaharoff

Basil Zaharoff was born on October 6, 1849 in Turkey (87 years old). Basil Zaharoff is an Entrepreneur, zodiac sign: Libra. Find out Basil Zaharoffnet worth 2020, salary 2020 detail bellow.


He was known for being shrewd and corrupt and didn't hesitate to sell arms to both nations involved in a war, dispute, or conflict.

Does Basil Zaharoff Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Basil Zaharoff died on Nov 27, 1936 (age 87).

Net Worth

Net Worth 2020


Salary 2020

Not known

Before Fame

He was a tourist guide in Galata and also worked as an arsonist for the Constantinople firefighters who would pay him to set fires at places that could be raided for riches as the buildings burned.

Biography Timeline


By a stroke of good fortune, Skouloudis was a friend of a Swedish captain, who was about to leave his job as an agent of arms manufacturer Thorsten Nordenfelt. Skouloudis used his influence to recommend Zaharoff for the role. Zaharoff was hired on October 14, 1877, beginning a spectacular career. The political and military instability in the Balkan states, Turkey and Russia provided an excellent opportunity for the arms sales, as each state spent to match the perceived aggressive intentions of its neighbours, even after the 1878 Treaty of Berlin.


Zaharoff did not make arms dealing his sole business at first. After Cyprus passed under British control in 1878 he seems to have slipped back into Britain; by 1883 he was working as a shipping agent in Galway, Ireland, where he recruited local girls for work in American factories. He also had a spell in the United States where he worked as a confidence man, and later as a salesman for a St. Louis railcar business. In 1885, posing as "Prince Zacharias Basileus Zacharoff", he married a Philadelphia heiress, Jennie Billings, and was pursued to Rotterdam by detectives after his exposure as a bigamist by an Englishman who recognised him as the same man who had married an English girl in Bristol in 1872.


From 1886 to 1889, at the same time that Zaharoff got the Maxim machine gun, he managed to appropriate Isaac Peral's submarine; although these facts are less well known. Zaharoff and Nordenfelt tried at this time to develop a submarine for their own business purposes.


Under pressure from Rothschild and Vickers, Thorsten Nordenfelt merged with Maxim's in 1888 to form the Maxim Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company. Two years later, a bankrupt Nordenfelt was forced out of the company.


Zaharoff was friends with the actress Sarah Bernhardt and her Greek husband Jacques Damala. When Damala's mistress had an illegitimate daughter by Damala in 1889, she left the baby and a note in a basket on Sarah Bernhardt's doorstep. Baptised Teresa, the baby was given to Zaharoff, who found a family to raise her in eastern Thrace (at Adrianopole).


Although very little could be proved, Zaharoff was viewed as a master of bribery and corruption, but the few incidents that did become public, such as the large bribes received by Japanese Admiral Fuji (is this anachronistically referring to the 1914 Siemens scandal?), indicated that a lot more was going on behind the scenes. In 1890, the Maxim-Nordenfelt association broke up, and Zaharoff chose to go with Maxim. Using his commissions, Zaharoff bought shares in Maxim's company until he was in a position to tell Maxim that he was no longer an employee, but an equal shareholder.


Zaharoff was fascinated by aviation, and gave money and other support to pioneers in Great Britain, France and Russia. He encouraged Hiram Maxim's attempt to build a flying machine, and claimed he and Maxim were the first men to be lifted off the earth, when Maxim tested his first "flying machine" at Bexley in 1894.


By 1897, the Maxim company had become important enough that it received a buyout offer from Vickers, one of the then giants of the armaments industry. This involved substantial settlements in both cash and shares for Maxim and Zaharoff. From then until 1911, while Maxim's business enthusiasm waned, Zaharoff's enthusiasm grew, and he expanded his portfolio of Vickers shares. After Maxim's retirement, Zaharoff was appointed to Vickers' board of directors.


The 1900s (decade) was a time for many European armies to rebuild and modernize. Germany and the United Kingdom both sought improved naval capability, and Vickers, with Zaharoff, were willing and able to service both sides. After its disastrous defeat by Japan in 1905, the Russian Navy also needed new equipment, but Russia was handcuffed by a wave of protectionism that required domestic industry for the rebuilding. Zaharoff's response was to build a huge Russian arms production complex at Tsaritsyn as a subsidiary of Vickers.


In April 1914, Australian newspapers published reports from London dated 25 April that M. Zaharoff had donated £20,000 "in order to enable France to be worthily represented at the forthcoming Olympic Games in Berlin" in 1916. The 1916 Olympic Games were subsequently cancelled because of the war. Zaharoff's donation represented a substantial contribution. On May 10, the French Government announced it would donate £6,000 to its Olympic team, and would distribute £12,000 of Zaharoff's donation among its Olympic teams, with the remaining £8,000 to "the furtherance of the Olympic cause."

On July 31, 1914, coincidentally the same day that the noted antimilitarist Jean Jaurès was assassinated, Raymond Poincaré signed a decree appointing Zaharoff a Commander of the Legion of Honour.

In March 1914, Vickers announced a new dawn of prosperity. During the course of the war, Vickers would produce 4 ships of the line, 3 cruisers, 53 submarines, 3 auxiliary vessels, 62 light vessels, 2,328 cannon, 8,000,000 tonnes of steel ordnance, 90,000 mines, 22,000 torpedoes, 5,500 airplanes and 100,000 machine guns. By 1915, Zaharoff had close ties with both David Lloyd George and Aristide Briand. It is reported that, on the occasion of one visit with Briand, Zaharoff surreptitiously left an envelope on Aristide Briand's desk; the envelope contained a million francs for war widows.


In the years that followed, Zaharoff involved himself in the affairs of the lesser powers, which the Big Four, involved in remaking Europe, could happily ignore. In particular, he set out to ensure that Greece and Venizelos received a proper share from the spoils from the badly weakened Turkey. In 1920, he donated half a billion gold francs to the Greek State for the Greek cause (Megali Idea). Zaharoff convinced Venizelos to attack but, after some impressive initial success, the Greek Army was eventually driven back. In the elections that followed, Constantine's loyalists managed to force Venizelos to flee, but Zaharoff stayed around to persuade the same King that he had to attack Turkey again. But with Mustafa Kemal now in charge of Turkey, this venture was bound to fail. Zaharoff's war adventures were not well received by the press in Paris and London.

Zaharoff was also involved in two more significant financial ventures in October 1920, becoming involved in the incorporation of a company that was a predecessor to oil giant British Petroleum. He foresaw that there was a great future in the oil business.


In September 1924, Zaharoff, 74, married María del Pilar Antonia Angela Patrocinio Fermina Simona de Muguiro y Beruete, 1st Duchess de Villafranca de los Caballeros. Previously married to a cousin of the King of Spain Alfonso XII, Lady Zaharoff was reputed to be one of the richest women in Spain. About eighteen months after their marriage, she died of an infection.


Also, the 1934 United States Senate Nye Committee Memorandum shows that Zaharoff was paid considerable sums for transactions made between foreign companies and the Spanish Government (for example, he got paid between a 5 and 7% commission for the price of American submarines sold to Spain, throughout all these years).


Zaharoff's power and influence in Spain lasted until his death in 1936, the year in which the Spanish Civil War began.

Family Life

Basil married for a second time late in life when he was 75 years old.

🎂 Upcoming Birthday

Currently, Basil Zaharoff is 172 years, 8 months and 22 days old. Basil Zaharoff will celebrate 173rd birthday on a Thursday 6th of October 2022. Below we countdown to Basil Zaharoff upcoming birthday.


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