Classic Essays

Bernie Cornfeld: Zeitgeister of Postwar America

Bernie Cornfeld

WHO IS the symbolic American of the last hundred years? We’d like to think he might be Lindbergh, Neil Armstrong, or even Arthur Jensen. To our mind, however — no matter how outrageous it may seem — when everything is considered, when the man is matched to the spirit and trend of the times, the choice narrows down to Bernie Cornfeld: boy scout, social worker, multimillionaire con man, and rapist (convicted in England).

After the collapse of his vast financial empire, Cornfeld just moved on to Beverly Hills where he threw endless lavish parties. Like Roman Polanski, another Jewish media figure and another rapist (convicted in California) who is still a refugee from US justice, convictions just don’t seem to matter much: Polanski just hopped on a plane and continued to make movies — and starlets — in France.

If a country becomes a cesspool then those that set the taste and tone must be cesspool figures and, as such, the true symbols of the Zeitgeist. Listen to some biographical details of this 20th-century perversion of Horatio Alger, as provided by Bert Cantor in The Bernie Cornfeld Story (Lyle Stuart, 1970);

[B]efore the decline and fall of Bernie Cornfeld … he put together a collection of people and things in a splendid style that combined the playboy-executive of the twentieth century with the dreams of an Oriental potentate. Included in the record are a couple of private jets plus a helicopter for quick jaunts to and from the airport; a town house on Geneva’s Lake Leman that Napoleon built for his wife Josephine; a forty-odd-room twelfth century castle in France with a stable of eight saddle horses and a pack of Great Danes, along with a moat, an operating drawbridge, and a staff of servants; a string of race horses; an assortment of cars that includes a squadron of Rolls-Royces, a couple of Cadillacs, and a sprinkling of sports cars; a half interest in the French high-fashion house of Guy Laroche; a permanent five-room suite at New York’s Hotel Carlyle with a permanently open private telephone line to Geneva; apartments or town houses in most of the major capitals of Europe; a one-third interest in a Japanese beat music group; and twenty new suits a year by Pierre Cardin or Guy Laroche. There was a payroll that numbered, according to company publicity, no less than one hundred and three IOS-made millionaires and carried at one time or another the sons of Franklin D. Roosevelt, King Gustav Adolf VI of Sweden, and David Ben-Gurion of Israel; along with Pat Brown, the former governor of California; Wilson Wyatt, the former lieutenant governor of Kentucky; Erich Mende, the former vice-chancellor of Germany; Eric Scott, the former president of the Toronto Stock Exchange; Sir Eric Wyndham White, the former head of the UN’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade … and a representative sampling of lesser mandarins, princes and pundits in every country …

As a wide-ranging bachelor, Bernie’s tastes in feminine companionship are international. His name has been linked with actresses Audrey Hepburn and Julie Christie, and innumerable less renowned ladies. For a time he was frequently seen with Dewi Sukarno, the ex-wife of the ex-president of Indonesia.

Other members of the entourage have included: the late Jewish cartoonist Al Capp, another rapist (convicted in Wisconsin); Oleg Cassini, flit-about dress designer of the “beautiful people”; Clay Felker, radical chic magazine publisher; and George J.W. Goodman, a pop economist who writes under the name of Adam Smith.

Cornfeld, born in Turkey, moved to the U.S. when he was five. Two years later his family separated and his mother took him to Israel, then back to the U.S. and eventually to Brooklyn. He entered Brooklyn College in 1948 and in a few years headed the Norman Thomas for President Club and the largest campus CORE [“Congress of Racial Equality”] chapter in the country. In 1952 he graduated with a degree in Social Work and finagled his way into a full-time job with the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization in Philadelphia. In 1955 he took a trip to Paris, where he thought it best to remain, since he owed New York City $5,000 in parking tickets. He became a European salesman for the Dreyfus Fund before launching out on his own. In less than fourteen years he was worth $100 million and bossed a network of mutual funds and insurance companies that controlled $2 billion of other people’s money. In order “to do something for Israel,” he started a mutual fund in Tel Aviv, which he tried to keep secret because of his lucrative business with Arabs.

As for affirmative action in Cornfeld’s enterprises, it was affirmative in one direction only. His executive staff, the men who really pulled the strings, were in this order: (1) nice Jewish boys from Brooklyn who belonged to Bernie’s Boy Scout Troop; (2) nice Jewish boys from Brooklyn; (3) nice Jewish boys; (4) everybody else. As one bigwig put it, “Our only demand is that all of our executives be bilingual and that one of the languages be Yiddish.”

In 1969 Bernie had a private audience with Pope Paul VI. He was accompanied by his mother who asked the Holy Father what he was doing for Israel. When they left the Pope said shalom “three times.” Later, at a dinner party Cornfeld was seated next to a Catholic missionary nun. He opened and closed the conversation with this question, “l’ve always wondered, what do you people do for sex?”

Cornfeld did much of his business with West Germans, who comprised 40% of the company’s one million clients. One of the operators in his Geneva office said, “The Krauts may have killed 6 million Jews, but our guys will show them — they won’t pay any taxes there.”

No one knows how many people lost how much money when Cornfeld’s financial house of cards collapsed. Cornfeld went to jail for a spell in Switzerland, but was quickly turned loose again. As a symbol of the times, he is really invaluable. Only a racial revolution or a nationwide revaluation of all the values Bernie holds most dear would prevent the Cornfeld scourge from repeating.

If you run across a used copy, The Bernie Cornfeld Story is worth a look for those who like to study diseases. It comes complete with photographs of James Roosevelt and ex-governor Pat Brown of California fawning over their hero. It’s a sickening tale about a man whose way of life tells more about the horror of our age than any number of Time magazines.

* * *

Source: Instauration magazine, December 1979

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23 April, 2017 1:00 pm Investors Overseas Services, Ltd. (IOS) was founded in 1955 by financier Bernard Cornfeld.[1][2] The company was incorporated outside the United States with funds in Canada and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. In the 1960s, the company employed 25,000 people who sold 18 different mutual funds door-to-door all over Europe, operating mostly in Germany with small investors. The company mainly targeted American expatriates and U.S. servicemen who sought to avoid paying income tax. The mutual fund offerings by the company were called “people’s capitalism” by founder Cornfeld. (…) Share value decreased from $18 to $12 in the spring of 1970. Cornfeld formed an investment pool with some other investors, but they lost when the share value dropped to $2. Even IOS employees and portfolio managers sold their shares by this time.… Read more »

Arvin N. Prebost
Arvin N. Prebost
26 April, 2017 3:43 pm

The way these people can make money and gain power seems to be demonic.

Actually, I recently heard an interview with a Vedic yogi who said that the encounter with YHWH in the desert by Abraham was actually an encounter with a very powerful desert demon, was nothing more than a business transaction, and introduced the concept of jihad to the world (although, of course it was not called that).

This is all believable to me.

28 April, 2017 11:29 am

Another quintessential aspect of the story is that Bernie Cornfeld is ugly.

1 March, 2020 6:58 pm

Mutual funds are the worst investment. Do your own research.

Arch Stanton
Arch Stanton
4 August, 2020 12:05 pm

“Clay Felker” I suspect is a misspelling, it should read “Clay Felcher” After all he is Jewish, is he not?