Abraham Salomon Camondo

Count Abraham Camondo (1781 Istanbul(Constantinople)– March 30, 1873 Paris) was a Jewish Ottoman-Italian financier and philanthropist and the patriarch of the Camondo family.

He was born in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire. In 1832 he inherited from his brother Isaac (who died without children) a fortune and was able to expand it greatly during his life. While Venice was under Austrian rule, he received as an Austrian subject the title of Chevalier of the Order of Francis Joseph. When Venice again became an Italian possession, Camondo, as a Venetian citizen, presented large gifts to several Italian philanthropic institutions, in recognition of which King Victor Emmanuel conferred upon him the title of count, with the privilege of transmitting it in perpetuity to the eldest son of the family.

Count Camondo's career in the Ottoman Empire was an extraordinary one. He exercised substantial influence with the sultans Abd-ul-Mejid I and Abd-ul-Aziz, and over the Ottoman grand viziers and ministers. He was banker to the Ottoman government before the founding of the Ottoman Bank. He obtained from the Porte a firman extending the privilege of possessing real estate in the empire, which until then had been restricted to subjects of the Ottoman Empire, to foreign nationals.

Camondo was active in behalf of other Jews. He established in Constantinople a central consistory for the Jews of the empire, of which he was almost continuously the president; he introduced reforms into the communal administration; and he founded in 1858 an educational institution, the Institution Camondo, at Peri Pasha, the poorest and most densely populated suburb of the capital. Shops for tailoring and shoemaking were soon added. On account of this school its benevolent founder was excommunicated by certain fanatical rabbis, and he endured otherwise much vexation; yet it flourished for thirty-two years and trained the majority of the Jewish officials then in the service of the Ottoman government.

Dying in Paris at the age of eighty-eight, Camondo, according to his last wishes, was buried in his family vault in the Jewish cemetery in Hasköy, Constantinople. The Ottoman government held memorial services in his honor.