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Definition: Hammer, Armand (1898 to 1991) from Chambers Dictionary of World History

US financier and philanthropist. Using his Russian origins and business contacts, he became an intermediary between five Soviet general-secretaries and US presidents from Franklin D Roosevelt to Richard Nixon. With Stalin's accession to power, Hammer left Russia, taking with him many Russian paintings which he used to found the Hammer Galleries in New York City. Retiring to Los Angeles after building a second fortune, in 1961 he bought Occidental Petroleum, a company near bankruptcy, and by 1965 had made it a major force in the oil industry. Convicted of making illegal contributions to Nixon's re-election fund, he was put on a year's probation and fined US$3,000. President George H W Bush pardoned him in 1989.


Summary Article: Hammer, Armand from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

US entrepreneur, one of the most remarkable business figures of the 20th century. A pioneer in trading with the USSR from 1921, he later acted as a political mediator. He was chair of the US oil company Occidental Petroleum until his death, and was also an expert on art.

Hammer visited the USSR 1921 and acquired the first private concession awarded by the Soviet government, an asbestos mine. He built up fortunes in several business areas, including the import-export business. He was renowned for his dynamism, his championing of East–West relations, and his many philanthropic and cultural activities.

Having received his medical degree from Columbia University, Hammer wanted to use his skills to aid victims of starvation and typhus in the Ural Mountains. While in the USSR, he developed the idea of importing food from the US grain surplus in exchange for luxury goods. Lenin approved, and Hammer established a large import-export business. During the next quarter of a century, he made a fortune in, among other things, livestock feed and cattle. In 1956, he and his wife each put $50,000 into a struggling oil company, Occidental Petroleum, which became one of America's largest.

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