Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild
Born in 1864, Béatrice was the daughter of the banker and major art collector Baron Alphonse de Rothschild. At 19 years old, she married Maurice Ephrussi, a Parisian banker originally from Russia who was a friend of her parents and 15 years her senior. The marriage quickly turned to disaster for Béatrice, as she caught a serious illness from Maurice which prevented her from having children. Maurice was a big gambler and in 1904 his debts amounted to more than 12 million gold francs, the equivalent of 30 million euros today. Worried about the future, the Rothschild family decided to take Maurice to court to demand a separation. They won the case and, in June 1904, after 21 years of marriage, Béatrice de Rothschild and Maurice Ephrussi were separated.
The following year, Béatrice’s father died and she inherited a vast fortune. It was at this time that she decided to build the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. She made this her winter residence from 1912 onwards and came here regularly for over ten years, during which she split her time between Paris, Monaco and Deauville.
In 1933, one year before her death, Béatrice bequeathed her Villa and all of her collections to the Académie des Beaux-Arts.