Henri Philippe Pharaoun
|Was||Businessperson Entrepreneur Athlete Tennis player Politician Jurist|
|Type||Business Law Politics Sports|
|Birth||1901, Alexandria, Egypt|
|Death||6 August 1993, Beirut, Lebanon (aged 92 years)|
Henri Philippe Pharaon (or Henry Pharon) (1901 – August 6, 1993), was a Lebanese art collector, sportsman, politician and businessman. He played a crucial role in securing Lebanon's independence from France and served as foreign minister and other Cabinet positions. He is also remembered as a champion of peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims.
Pharaon was born the son of Philippe Pharaon a wealthy Lebanese Melkite Catholic merchant in Alexandria, Egypt. Four years later his family moved to Beirut, where he was educated in missionary schools. He attended college in Switzerland, and received a law degree at Lyons University in France. Pharaon married Noelie Cassar, heiress of a wealthy Maltese family from Jaffa, in 1922, while he was national tennis champion of Lebanon. They had one son, Naji Henri. For many generations the honorary-consuls to the imperial court in Vienna and the Austro-Hungarian Empire came from his family. He founded the "Austro-Lebanese Association of Friendship". Probably the richest man in Lebanon during much of his lifetime, he helped to found independent Lebanon and designed the Lebanese flag, which in its colors looks similar to the red-white-red Flag of Austria. Known as a Mediterranianist who encouraged cooperation between Christians and Muslims, Pharaon opposed the pan-Arabist intentions of Riad El-Solh and helped temper the power of the Arab League. He served in the Lebanese Parliament from 1943 to 1946, and then as the Lebanese foreign minister intermittently from 1945 to 1947. After this he retired from politics to focus on business interests. During the Lebanese Civil War of 1975-1990 Pharaoun took no side, preferring instead to broker peace between the warring factions. His business interests included Bank Pharaon and Chiha, both of which he founded. During the 1950s and 1960s he owned the world's biggest racing stable of Arabian horses. Pharaon was murdered in his bedroom at the Carlton Hotel in 1993. He was stabbed 16 times; his driver and bodyguard was also found stabbed over 20 times to death at the scene. Police released a statement including the possibility of robbery as a motive for stabbing the 92-year-old man so many repeated times. A man formerly employed by Pharaon as a bodyguard was arrested for his murder. One of their palaces in Beirut was one of the landmarks of that city, and was partly destroyed during the civil war and later sold to the Saudi royal family. His former Beirut residence is now the Robert Mouawad Private Museum, housing a collection of Arab, Greek and Byzantine antiquities. During his lifetime Pharaon gained an international reputation as a collector of art and antiquities, many of which he amassed at the mansion located at Beirut's Green Line. According to the New York Times, the residence is a "palace [which] resembles a Gothic castle with a hodgepodge of Greek and Roman statues and sarcophaguses in the walled garden."