Did Buffett’s Mentor Lead An Unorthodox Life?

To get right to the point, the early mentor of investor extraordinaire Warren Buffett had a very straight to the point ethic in business, but he also had a very strange and unorthodox personal life. This was learned by reading the new book by investment analyst Joe Carlen titled “The Einstein of Money” (Prometheus Books, 368 pages, $25).

The now famous author of “The Intelligent Investor,” Benjamin Graham is the individual who truly shaped the investment philosophy of Warren Buffett. His book has also been a bestseller in the business category since it was originally published in the year 1949. Buffett went to Columbia University so he could specifically enroll and study under Graham. He also had the opportunity to work for him in New York City during the 1950s.

Benjamin Graham had two sons that passed away relatively early in their lives. His first son, named Newton, died of meningitis of the spine at the age of eight. His second son, named Newton II, served in the U.S. Army in France during the year 1954, where he committed suicide. Once Graham found out that his son was dead, he immediately uprooted himself at the age of 60 and went to France to take care of the arrangements of his son’s passing. While he was there, he met Newton IIs lover at the time, named Marie Louise Amigues.

“Malou” Amigues is a citizen of France who also happened to be about 20 years older than Benjamin Graham’s son. She immediately became Ben Graham’s primary companion and lover, and this was all happening while he was still married at the time, according to Carlen in his brand-new book.

The third wife of Graham, Estelle, lived apart from Ben for the last 10 years of his life. He actually passed on from this world at Amigues’ home during the year 1976 while they were in France. In the book, Carlen mentions that Graham was regularly and routinely unfaithful to all of his wives, and he also added:

“Graham’s failings in one particular area of an otherwise honorable personal life are all the more startling in light of his exemplary, almost saintly, track record in ethical matters where money was concerned.”

To give you a little bit of perspective on Buffett’s relationship with Graham, “Ben couldn’t have been nicer to me,” are the exact words that Buffett told Carlen during an interview. One example that immediately comes to mind is this – Graham actually paid for Buffett to take dance lessons when he learned that Susan Thompson Buffett, Warren’s wife, enjoyed to go dancing.

The Grahams, both Ben and Estelle, decided to take the young Buffett couple under their wings, as a matter of speaking, and the Buffett family also visited them in California after Ben and his wife retired to the state.

Buffett and Graham are actually 35 years apart in age, and they come from very different backgrounds as well. Graham is actually the great-grandson of the chief Rabbi of Warsaw, Poland. Buffett is a Midwestern Protestant that was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska.

But Carlen also noted that there were similarities between the two individuals. Both of these gentlemen had very successful entrepreneurs in their family lines, and the fathers of both gentlemen had very strong religious convictions as well. Both individuals have been blessed to have a superior intellect, very good memories and a love for mathematics plus a gift for numbers.

To continue on with the similarities, both were very poor at one point in their lives, which was important to both gentlemen because it helped reinforce the need to succeed financially, as well as grow their appreciation for real world value, according to Carlen in “The Einstein of Money.”

Buffett also confirmed a story for Carlen which he heard in the 1980s while he was talking to a cab driver in Omaha. There was an Omaha auto dealer who was offering very large discounts on cars that happened to get damaged in a hailstorm. Warren Buffett was already a billionaire at this time, but since he is a bargain shopper he actually bought one. His daughter Susan bought one of these hail-dimpled cars on behalf of her father.

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