Bill Koch (businessman)

Bill Koch
Bill Koch (America’s Cup in San Diego).jpg
Koch in 1992
William Ingraham Koch

(1940-05-03) May 3, 1940 (age 80)
Education Massachusetts Institute of Technology (SB, SM, PhD)
Occupation Businessman, sailor, and collector
Net worth US$1.8 billion (April 2019)[1]
Spouse(s) Joan Granlund
(m. 1994; div.)
Angela Browder Gauntt
( m. 1996; div. 2000)

Bridget Rooney
( m. 2005)
Children 5

William Ingraham Koch (/ˈkk/; born May 3, 1940) is an American billionaire businessman, sailor, and collector. His boat was the winner of the America's Cup in 1992. Forbes estimated Koch's net worth at $1.8 billion in 2019, from oil and other investments.[1]

Early life

Koch is the son of Mary Clementine (née Robinson) and Fred C. Koch, founder of Koch Industries, a business empire based on oil refining. His paternal grandfather, Harry Koch, was a Dutch immigrant, who founded the Quanah Tribune-Chief newspaper and was a founding shareholder of Quanah, Acme and Pacific Railway. Among his maternal great-great-grandparents were William Ingraham Kip, an Episcopal bishop; William Burnet Kinney, a politician; and Elizabeth Clementine Stedman, a writer.

Koch attended Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana.[2] He graduated with bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering, all from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[3] David Koch (d. 2019) was his twin brother.[4] His other brothers are Frederick R. Koch (1933–2020) and Charles Koch (1935).

Business career

Koch worked in his family's company. He and his eldest brother Frederick R. Koch had inherited Koch Industries stock. In 1983 the stock netted them $800 million in a sale to their brothers, Charles and David.[5]

Legal disputes against Charles and David lasted some two decades. Bill and his eldest brother, Frederick, sided with J. Howard Marshall III, J. Howard Marshall II's eldest son, against Charles and David at one point, in order to take over the company. In 2001, Koch reached a settlement where he had charged the company was taking oil from federal and Indian land. This settlement ended all litigation between the brothers.[6] CBS News reported that Koch Industries settled for $25 million, and Bill received one-third of the settlement for bringing the suit.[7]

After leaving Koch Industries, he became the founder and president of the Oxbow Group, an energy development holding company based in West Palm Beach, Florida.[8] In 2011, Oxbow donated $750,000 to Restore Our Future, Inc., the "SuperPAC" supporting Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.[9] Koch was also an investor in the ill-fated Kendall Square Research.

Koch co-chairs the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a group formed to fight the Cape Wind project to build an offshore wind farm of 130 turbines. In 2005, Koch contributed $500,000 in donations to the alliance directly and more than $1 million toward lobbyist efforts to defeat the project.[10][11]

America's Cup

Koch won the America's Cup in 1992 with the yacht America 3, defeating the Italian challenger Il Moro di Venezia. America 3's overall record, including trials, was 28–10. Koch reportedly spent around $65 million on his effort and though an amateur, sailed on the crew himself, assisted by veteran sailors like Buddy Melges.[12]

In 1995, Koch financed another team to compete for the cup. This time the crew consisted entirely of women except for tactician David Dellenbaugh, on a yacht named Mighty Mary. However, the boat lost to Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes in the trials.[13]

Koch is a supporter of the Sea Scout program of the Boy Scouts of America, biannually hosting the William I. Koch International Sea Scout Cup.

Koch was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 1993.[14] Koch was inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame in 2018.[15]


Koch is a collector of art and wine. He has filed several high-profile suits against sellers of counterfeit wines, most notably a suit against Hardy Rodenstock for the sale of wine purported to have been owned by Thomas Jefferson.[16] Koch also sued Rudy Kurniawan and the auction house Acker, Merrall & Condit, through whom Koch purchased Kurniawan's wine. Koch filed the suit against Kurniawan in 2009,[17] and was reported to have reached a settlement for $3 million in July 2014.[18][19]

Koch's collection of maritime memorabilia includes model ships, antique nautical instruments, and paintings of ships and seascapes.[8] A 2005 show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston featured his collections, including the America 3 and the yacht it defeated, Il Moro di Venezia. The show was also criticized, however, for glamorizing Koch at the expense of the museum's educational function. Koch had helped finance the show, including paying the cost to move the boats from Rhode Island.[20] He previously owned the former French Class America F1 - IACC F1 renamed later USA-2.

The boats were in Rhode Island because Koch had placed them with a small maritime museum there. Despite the considerable expense of building them, he said "they have absolutely no value" once their racing life is over.[21] Koch, a native of Wichita, Kansas, donated the yacht he used in qualifying for the America's Cup races, Jayhawk, to the Wichita Boathouse. He also supplied money for the city to use in repairing the yacht.[22]

In June 2011, he purchased a 130-year-old photo of the legendary outlaw Billy the Kid for the amount of $2.3 million at a Denver auction.[23][24]

At his Colorado ranch, Koch has a collection of military vehicles, including a M42 Duster antiaircraft gun.[25]


Koch donated $1.5 million to Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.[26] Its goal is to prevent the construction of Cape Wind, a wind power project located in Nantucket Sound, near Koch's Cape Cod house.

Koch gave $2 million to Restore Our Future, a PAC created to support 2012 Republican Party Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.[27]

Personal life

In 1994, Koch married Joan Granlund, with whom he had a son, Wyatt. The marriage ended in divorce.[28]

In 1995, he filed a lawsuit against his former lover, Catherine de Castelbajac, to evict her from his $2.5 million condominium at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston. He said he had allowed her to move in the previous year so she could attend Simmons College, as he seldom used the apartment. When he tried to end the relationship, de Castelbajac refused to move out and claimed he had broken his promises to her. A jury ruled in Koch's favor after a trial that was noted for its disclosure of torrid letters and faxes between the two.[29]

In 2005, Koch married Bridget Rooney (b. 1962) at a ceremony in Colorado. The couple have had one daughter, Kaitlin. Bridget Rooney Koch is the granddaughter of the original owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers football franchise, Art Rooney (1901–1988).[30] The Kochs are part-time residents of Palm Beach, Florida.[30]


  1. ^ a b "Forbes profile: William Koch". Forbes. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  2. ^ "SPORTS PEOPLE: YACHT RACING; Don't Tell Dennis Conner", The New York Times, July 15, 1992. Accessed February 14, 2008. "The America's Cup defender, BILL KOCH, capsized a sailboat on Lake Maxinkuckee in Culver, Ind., last weekend while racing students at Culver Academy, where he graduated in the 1950s."
  3. ^ "Management Team". Oxbow Corporation. Archived from the original on 14 February 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  4. ^ "David and William Koch as MIT Basketball Players". The New Republic. 2013-08-14. Retrieved 2015-06-10.
  5. ^ "Koch's wife granted order of restraint". Pittsburg (KS) Morning Sun, July 21, 2000.
  6. ^ "Judge Clears Koch Brothers' Settlement Pact". Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2001.
  7. ^ "Blood And Oil". CBS News. 2000-11-27. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  8. ^ a b Schwan, Gary. "A taste of what floats collector Koch's boat". Palm Beach Post, March 13, 2006.
  9. ^ "Schedule A for ALL Line #'s". Archived from the original on 2012-02-01. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  10. ^ Dennehy, Kevin and David Schoetz. "State could decide fate of wind farm". Cape Cod Times, April 1, 2006.
  11. ^ Brooks, Walter. "Osterville billionaire oil man behind stealth move to stop the wind farm". Cape Cod Today, March 16, 2006.
  12. ^ Roberts, Rich (May 17, 1992). "America 3 Win No Bargain Sail Yachting: But after beating Il Moro, 4–1, Koch says the $65 million he spent to win the America's Cup is worth it". Los Angeles Times.
  13. ^ Phillips, Angus (April 28, 1995). "Mighty Mary's Fate Is Left On The Wind". Washington Post.
  14. ^ "Herreshoff Marine Museum & America's Cup Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  15. ^ "William Ingraham Koch 2018 Inductee". Retrieved April 12, 2020.
  16. ^ Keefe, Patrick Radden (3 September 2007). "The Jefferson Bottles, How could one collector find so much rare fine wine?". The New Yorker.
  18. ^ Raymond, Nate; Ax, Joseph (24 July 2014). "Former wine collector to forfeit $20 million for counterfeiting". Reuters. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  19. ^ Chung, Andrew (16 July 2014). "Billionaire Koch settles suit over fake wine". Reuters. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  20. ^ Edgers, Geoff (30 August 2005). "Furor ahoy: MFA exhibit of Koch's collections stirs questions over choices, motives". The Boston Globe.
  21. ^ Walker, Sam. "On Sports: Sailing's Edsels". Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2003.
  22. ^ "Welcome back, Boathouse". The Wichita Eagle. 8 July 2010.
  23. ^ Tripp, Leslie (June 26, 2011). "Billy the Kid photograph fetches $2.3 million at auction". CNN.
  24. ^ Heisler, Yoni (14 October 2015). "Billy The Kid Photo: This rare photo was bought for $2 and may now be worth millions". BGR. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  25. ^ Lofholm, Nancy (5 July 2012). "'Tiananmen Sid' faces down tank in Paonia's Fourth of July parade". The Denver Post.
  26. ^ Doyle, Tim (2006-09-21). "Koch's New Fight". Fortune.
  27. ^ Bykowicz, Julie (July 9, 2012). "Romney's 'Koch Problem:' $3 Million". Bloomberg News. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  28. ^ Hofheinz, Darrell. "Pulitzer estate fetches $8.2 million". Palm Beach Daily News.
  29. ^ Mehren, Elizabeth. "A Steamy Romance Gets Frosty in Court". Los Angeles Times, November 28, 1995.
  30. ^ a b Biggane, Brian (February 4, 2015). "Rooney family has made a big impact in Palm Beach County". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved October 2, 2015.

External links