Alexander Mantashev (Mantashyan), Businessman, Philanthropist

Alexander Mantashev (Mantashyan), Businessman, Philanthropist

“It’s here, start digging.”

Who he was

Alexander Mantashev (Mantashyan), an oil baron and a philanthropist, was one of the wealthiest men of the early 20th century. He competed for domination of oil interests with John D. Rockefeller and the Nobel brothers, his juggernaut contemporaries, in Baku, the city where he helped to develop the oil industry.

He was born in Tiflis (present-day Tbilisi) in Georgia, but spent a great deal of time in Tabriz, Iran and Manchester, England.

Mantashev was so powerful during his time that banker Otto Jeidels wrote: “The world oil market is even today still divided between two great financial groups — Rockefeller’s American Standard Oil Co., and Rothschild and Nobel, the controlling interests of the Russian oilfields in Baku. The two groups are closely connected. But for several years five enemies have been threatening their monopoly: (1) the exhaustion of the American oilfields; (2) the competition of the firm of Mantashev of Baku; (3) the Austrian oilfields; (4) the Rumanian oilfields; (5) the overseas oilfields, particularly in the Dutch colonies (the extremely rich firms, Samuel, and Shell, also connected with British capital).”

Mantashev was instrumental in the development of the Caucasian cities of Tiflis (Tbilisi) and Baku as a financier, oil tycoon and philanthropist. He built what became the Rustaveli National Theatre in Tbilisi and laid the foundation for the oil industry in Baku, also funding an oil pipeline from Baku to Batumi in 1907. He also served as an intermediary between Calouste Gulbenkian, another Armenian oil tycoon, and influential individuals within his deep network. The French president awarded him the Order of the Legion of Honor, the country’s highest decoration, for his philanthropic work in France.

Interesting fact

Mantashev financed the education of the great Armenian composer, Komitas.

Learn more about his work

Paris Armenian Church

Rustaveli Theatre