Gulbenkian was one of the first entrepreneurs who searched for oil deposits in what is now Iraq.
This day in 1869 marked the birth of Calouste Gulbenkian, one of the wealthiest Armenians in history. He was born near Istanbul in a time when most of the Middle East was under Ottoman rule. His father secured him a good education, including studying at the King’s College in London. Since Gulbenkian was an ethnic Armenian, he left the Ottoman Empire when it began persecuting his people.
In London the young Gulbenkian participated at the famous merger of the companies Royal Dutch and Shell, which led to the creation of the famous Royal Dutch Shell company. On the eve of World War I Gulbenkian returned to the Ottoman Empire and initiated the founding of the large company called simply the Turkish Petroleum Company. He conducted an interesting business maneuver by attracting large foreign oil companies and gave them shares in the newly-founded company. He thus secured a good synergy of resources and kept 5% of the shares for himself. He allegedly said that it is better to have a small slice of a big pie than a big slice of a small one.
Gulbenkian was one of the first entrepreneurs who searched for oil deposits in what is now Iraq, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire. His Turkish Petroleum Company received concessions on the territory of the Middle East and became the Iraq Petroleum Company after the Ottoman Empire was dissolved. Vast oil reserves were discovered and Gulbenkian reaped enormous profits from his 5% share in the company. He donated much of his wealth to charity and acquired a large art collection. He died one of the richest men in the world, aged 86.