Legendary diamond broker Willie Nagel dies – JCK

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William “Willie” Nagel (pictured), the lawyer-turned-broker of De Beers known for his tireless advocacy on behalf of his clients and his vast network both inside and outside the industry, died on July 14. He was 95 years old.

According to a 2018 profile in The daily telegraph, Nagel was born in 1925, in Czernowitz, which was then part of Romania. When Nagel’s father overheard the Romanian king on the radio assuring the citizens that they were safe, with Hitler on one side and Stalin on the other, he picked up the family and moved into what was called then Palestine. There his father worked in a bunch of industries, including diamonds. Nagel later found out that his father had helped smuggle hundreds of Jews out of Hitler’s clutches.

“When he died, dozens of people came to say how they thanked him for saving their lives,” Nagel said. The telegraph. “He was so modest, unlike me.”

Nagel went to study law in London, but soon realized he wasn’t cut out to be a lawyer. “I could not count that my accent would be appreciated in court, despite many speaking lessons,” he said. Idex In 2008.

He was immediately drawn to diamonds, especially the bustle of the Hatton Garden diamond district, close to the courts. He quickly made a name for himself.

“People in Israel who worked in the company came to London to see their broker and see De Beers,” he said. The telegraph. “Most of them didn’t speak English. They used me to go to De Beers, that way I got to know the whole hierarchy of the company.

In 1959 he formalized this arrangement by opening W. Nagel Ltd., which became part of the elite group of De Beers rough brokers who represented the sightholders to what was then called “the Syndicate.”

Nagel saw his role as that of acting as a “political lobbyist, advisor, confidant and sometimes even psychologist” to his clients, he said. World Diamond Magazine in 2016. “I even found myself, believe it or not, intervening in marital affairs. Fortunately, not too often.

He also extended this diplomacy to the political world, rubbing shoulders with luminaries from all sides. He said The telegraph he had met all the British prime ministers and presidents of the United States since the 1960s; his walls were dotted with photos of him with figures such as Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher.

Years later, he called himself the father of the Kimberley Process (KP). Although the certification program had many parents, Nagel’s connections to British politicians like Peter Hain, then British Foreign Secretary for Africa, no doubt helped convince governments that the KP could solve the problem. then thorny problem of conflict diamonds. Nagel remained proud of his involvement in the creation of the KP.

Two of her children, Toni and Adam, now work for her family business. Even in his 90s, Nagel remained involved and alert; in 2017, when a tiff with a client turned into a full-fledged trial, the judge’s ruling praised him as a “measured and articulate witness who showed no signs of diminishing acuity at the age of 92 “.

The Jewish Chronicle He probably summed up his personality best when he wrote that he was “blunt, contemptuous, friendly and charming – sometimes all at the same time – and certainly never short of daring.”

De Beers said in a statement: “Willie has played a pivotal role in the evolution of the diamond industry over a very long and distinguished career. Although he will be missed by the industry, his legacy will live on just like the diamonds he was synonymous with. “

Willie Nagel is survived by his wife Joséphine; her children Mela, Toni, Joanna and Adam; and his grandchildren George, Joseph, Ash and Bo.

(Photo courtesy of De Beers Group)

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