Harry Recanati (1918-2011)

About Harry Recanati, founder of the Ralli Museums.

Mr. Harry Recanati was born in Salonika, Greece, in 1918, the son of Leon and Mathilda Recanati Saporta. The Recanati family was originally from Italy and the Saporta family from Spain.

In 1937 after completing his studies, Harry Recanati joined the Israel Discount Bank Ltd., a modest bank in Tel Aviv founded by his father Leon in 1935. Leon Recanati died unexpectedly in 1945 and Harry, the eldest son then 26 years old, was appointed general manager in his place.

The bank headed by Harry was a success, and in 1952 the Israel Discount Bank became the second largest bank in the country. In these seven years more than 40 branches were opened, two private local banks were acquired, and an investment company was established. Harry invited his brother Daniel to join him, and the third brother, Raphael, chose to devote himself to the shipping business.

In 1952 Harry Recanati moved to Geneva, Switzerland, from where he established a network of private banks in Switzerland, France, Uruguay, Peru and Chile.

In 1962 the Bank acquired Ralli Brothers Ltd. of London in partnership with the Isaac Wolfson Group. This acquisition increased the number of banks to 9, in addition to the business firm Ralli International Trade in Europe, Africa, the Far East and the Americas. As a result of these developments the Group's activity spanned to 22 countries, and Harry decided to settle in London. Some time later Raphael Recanati, who settled in New York in the late forties, opened a branch of the Israel Discount Bank there.

In 1969 Harry decided to quit the team and purchased two small banks from his brothers, one in Switzerland, Ralli Brothers (Bankers) SA, and the other in France, Discount Bank (France) SA.

The management of the Latin American branches required frequent visits to the continent, where he became acquainted with the local art world. He was impressed by the quality and the colors and started to acquire works from local artists. Today the Latin American collection of the Recanati Foundation is considered one of the largest in the world. Then he decided to share this artistic treasure with the world and built the first museum of art in Punta del Este (Uruguay), and later founded a museum in Santiago de Chile, the first museum in Caesarea (Israel), a museum in Marbella (Spain) and a second museum in Caesarea. All museums are open to the public free of charge, to allow everyone to enjoy art.

He developed his banking business for 10 years and then decided to retire from the daily administration of affairs and dedicate all his time to cultural activities.

Since 1980 Harry Recanati devoted himself to art, he sold the Swiss bank to Security Pacific Bank of Los Angeles and the French bank to Cassa di Resparmio di Roma, thus ending his activities in the banking sector.

Then he created the Harry Recanati Foundation to ensure the existence of the museums for future generations. The Foundation is a private, non-profit institution whose main purpose is to present and disseminate art by means of the Ralli Museums owned by the Harry Recanati Foundation. 

The Foundation and the Ralli Museums are not supported by donations or subsidies from public or private institutions.

Harry Recanati died in Israel on December 18, 2011. Blessed be his memory.