Hammer, Armand

Hammer, Armand,

1898–1990, American business executive, b. New York City. He began in his father's pharmaceutical business and then expanded it into the Soviet Union. He returned (1930) to New York, where he invested in whiskey, cattle, and broadcasting. He invested in Occidental Petroleum Corporation in the 1950s and expanded it into a company with over $10.1 billion in annual revenues. In the 1970s, a subsidiary of the company was involved in lawsuits concerning the dumping of toxic wastes into the Love CanalLove Canal,
section of Niagara Falls, N.Y., that formerly contained a canal that was used as chemical disposal site. In the 1940s and 50s the empty canal was used by a chemical and plastics company to dump nearly 20,000 tons (c.
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. Throughout his life, Hammer was an active promoter of peace and economic ties between the United States and the Communist countries. His extensive art collection is housed in the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center in Westwood, Calif.


See his autobiography, Hammer (1986); biography by S. Weinberg (1989).

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Hammer, Armand

(1898–1990) industrialist, art collector, philanthropist; born in New York City. His father, Julius Hammer, was a Russian immigrant who was a doctor, a socialist activist, and a founding member of the American Communist Party. While earning his medical degree at Columbia University, Armand made his first million dollars running his father's pharmaceutical business. In 1921 he went to the new Soviet Union to help combat a typhus epidemic; realizing that starvation was also a problem, he hit upon the idea of trading American grain for Soviet furs and other goods. By this time he had gained the support of Lenin, who gave Hammer certain commercial concessions, and he made even more millions in manufacturing and trade. Back in the U.S.A. by 1930, his many business ventures in the 1930s and 1940s included trading in whiskey, cattle, and priceless art works acquired in Russia. In 1956 he bought the near-bankrupt Occidental Petroleum; in his 33 years as chairman and CEO he turned it into a billion-dollar conglomerate through a series of oil strikes and rights deals and the acquisition of fertilizer, chemical, and coal companies. He championed U.S.-Soviet relations throughout the cold war, promoting cultural and commercial exchanges and representing the U.S.A. in trade talks; as one of the few Americans trusted by the Soviet leaders, he became an unofficial ambassador and liaison during difficult moments. (In 1986 he personally paid for a team of physicians to rush to Russia in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.) Immensely rich, he supported many philanthropies through the Armand Hammer Foundation and made major donations to Columbia University, the National Gallery, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His own extensive art collection was left to the Armand Hammer Museum that he established in Los Angeles in 1990.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Executive producers, Dennis Hammer, Armand Speca, Jeff Fazio; producer, Michael R.
Finally, in Hammer, Armand concedes, "It is fairly obvious that [my father] must also have had in mind the symbol of the Socialist Labor Party."