The History of Berkowitz Family

Palatul Noblesse – Lifestyle Palace
The History Of Berkowitz Family

The beginnings of the Berkowitz business in Bucharest can be roughly placed around the same time as the early years of the reign of Prince Carol I. Somewhere between 1868-1872, the foundations of the Berkowitz house were laid. The timing is owed to an official document from December 7, 1931, which mentions “the bank’s presence on the market for over 60 years”. Another source shortens the lifespan to less than 60 years. French publicist Frédéric Damé is the only one who provides a brief history of the Leon Berkowitz bank in his 1906 book Bucarest en 1906. He says: “The L.Berkowitz Bank, managed today (1906) by brothers Elly, Adolph, and Max Berkowitz, as owners, was established in 1880 by Leon Berkowitz Sr., who initially only engaged in discount operations. However, due to the progress of these operations, he established the bank and partnered with his sons, Elly, Max, and Adolph Berkowitz, whom he led until 1903 when he retired to hand over the management to the three current associates.”

Therefore, starting in 1903, brothers Max, Elly, and Adolph Berkowitz took over the L.Berkowitz bank. 1903 is also the year when Leon Berkowitz bought from Ioan Pascu the residence at 7 Sfinților Street, which he furnished to his liking. It was a very beautiful and elegant retreat for an elderly banker, in a new residence, far from the tumultuous world of business.

The History of Berkowitz Family - Palatul Noblesse
The History of Berkowitz Family - Palatul Noblesse

Oficial, the L.Berkowitz Bank would be established much later. The truth is revealed in an address signed by the three brothers in 1931, on the occasion of the “preventive concordat” request. We learn on this occasion that “the Leon Berkowitz bank was established in 1926 as a joint-stock company and succeeded the old firm, Leon Berkowitz, banker, which was liquidated due to the establishment of the new company. For several decades, the old Leon Berkowitz bank stood among the first enterprises of its kind, not only punctually honoring its commitments but also contributing to the creation of various credit institutions that consolidated Romania’s economic situation before the war (World War I), and strongly supporting the country’s trade during the most severe crises that befell the market over the course of these long years.” The stock market crash that began in the fall of 1929 severely affected many Romanian firms, but the L. Berkowitz Bank was among the very few that did not recover, that could not be saved despite the measures taken by the National Bank of Romania in this regard: the three-year preventive concordat and the five-year grace period.

The bank’s bankruptcy meant a true disaster for the Berkowitz brothers, who despite years of grace were unable to balance their family business positively. Elly Berkowitz died before 1933, and on July 10, 1936, Max Berkowitz followed suit. Just five days before the official declaration of bankruptcy, though already knowing the outcome of the sentence. Adolf died on May 25, 1939.