Leslie Gonda

Leslie Gonda
Lazlo Goldschmied

(1919-08-20)August 20, 1919
Mezőtúr, Hungary
Died March 16, 2018 (aged 98)
Residence Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Occupation businessman
Known for Co-founder of International Lease Finance Corporation
Net worth US$1.6 billion (October 2006)[1]
Spouse(s) Susan Gonda
Children Louis Gonda

Leslie Gonda (August 20, 1919 – March 16, 2018) was a Hungarian-born American businessman, philanthropist, and Holocaust survivor. He was the co-founder (with his son Louis Gonda) of International Lease Finance Corporation.

Early life

Gonda was born Lazlo Goldschmied to a Jewish family in the town of Mezőtúr, Hungary, on August 20, 1919.[2] He changed his name to escape the Nazis during World War II.[3] He earned a degree from the University of Magyarovar.[1]


In 1945, Gonda moved to Venezuela, beginning a local wares business which expanded into real estate and construction.[3] Over time, he grew, beginning local businesses and branching into hotels and the aircraft industry.[citation needed] In 1963, he moved to Los Angeles, United States[3] and started International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) with his son Louis as well as his friend Steven Udvar-Hazy.[1] ILFC later became the second largest airliner leasing company in the world and a pioneer of aircraft leasing. In 1983, they took ILFC public and in 1990, they sold it to American International Group for AIG stock. Gonda was given a seat on AIG's Board of Directors.[1] In 1995, Gonda retired from AIG, and continued his activities in commercial real estate and venture capital investments via his Lexington Commercial Holdings.[1] Gonda's wealth plummeted after the collapse of AIG during the 2009 economic crisis.[4]


The Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center at Bar-Ilan University building (2011)

Gonda was a benefactor of many medical institutions, museums, and charities. He donated the learning center at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. He made large donations to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where the Gonda building is named after him. He made large donations to the UCLA Medical Center where the Gonda (Goldschmied) Neuroscience and Genetics Research Center and the Gonda Diabetes Center are also named after him. He donated to the City of Hope Cancer Center and is known for his generosity in giving gold coins to his employees' children. In 1999, he gave $60 million to the Smithsonian Institution.[5] He made large donations to Bar-Ilan University in Israel, for building "The Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center" and the "Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Nanotechnology Triplex".[1]

Personal life

He was married to Susan Gonda, also a Holocaust survivor, until her death in 2009.[3] They had three children, and he lived in Beverly Hills, California.[1]

Their son Louis Gonda[3] is married to Broadway producer Kelly Gonda, daughter of actress Honey Sanders.[6]

He died on March 16, 2018, aged 98.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "List of Billionaires". Forbes.
  2. ^ a b "Leslie L. Gonda's Obituary on Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e Los Angeles Times: "Gondas have less wealth to share - Hospitals, theaters and museums have long enjoyed their generosity. But as AIG shares fell, the father and son's fortunes shriveled" by W.J. Hennigan November 08, 2009
  4. ^ Farrell (30 September 2008). "Some billionaires losing big in economic crisis". NBC. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
  5. ^ Molotsky, Irvin (30 September 1999). "Billionaire, Once Refugee, Donates Millions to Museum". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  6. ^ Variety: "Honey Sanders - Thesp, talent agent" November 10, 2003

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