Very affected by his father, a talented businessman with an uncompromising work ethic and a knack for success in a variety of business ventures, Marc Rich spent much of his childhood helping his father in several of his companies.
Marc Rich studied at Rhode's School in Manhattan and in the fall of 1952 entered into a four-year marketing program at New York University.
In the spring of 1954, Marc Rich joined Philipp Brothers as a "lehrling" in the mailroom. Philipp Brothers was a highly regarded, if not the best regarded, physical trading company in the United States. Working his way up, Marc Rich was transferred to the shipping department that was responsible for the control of all of the Philipp Brothers' physical commodities movements.
Marc Rich soon began travelling to different Philipp Brothers offices around the world, including Bolivia, the Netherlands, India, Spain and Switzerland. From 1964 to 1974, he managed the Phibro office in Madrid, Spain.
In October 1966, Marc Rich married Denise Eisenberg and their first child Ilona was born in Madrid in August 1967. Still in Madrid, their second child Gabrielle was born in January 1969.
Marc Rich's business acumen was quickly recognized, and he was groomed for the role of president of Philipp Brothers. But in April 1974, determined to set out on their own, Marc Rich and Pincus Green, another former mailroom worker who had become a senior member of the Philipp Brothers group and a handful of other traders of the company, started their own trading firm, Marc Rich + Co AG ("MRAG"). It was created and headquartered in Switzerland with additional offices initially located in London and Madrid. By 1978 a Swiss subsidiary was operating in New York, and the business was well on its way towards tremendous success. Soon it was placed in the very top ranks of international trading companies throughout the world.
After the formation of MRAG, Marc Rich initially lived in London where his third daughter, Danielle, was born in March 1975.
By the early eighties, the Marc Rich Group of companies was one of the largest and most successful trading houses in the world.
In 1983 Marc Rich moved to Switzerland, which became the centre of his life.
Also in 1983, Marc Rich and others were indicted in the U.S. on charges of tax evasion, false statements, RICO and illegal trading with Iran, but he was neither tried nor ever convicted.
Despite those legal difficulties with the United States, the Marc Rich Group of companies developed into one of the world's major players in arranging for the successful transfer of raw products from producer countries to developed nations. In building this business, the Marc Rich Group made substantial contributions to the world economy by increasing competition in the physical commodities industries.
By 1993, when Marc Rich sold his interest in the commodity trading part of the Marc Rich Group to the senior managers of the company, the trading entity – re-named Glencore – was doing over 30 billion U.S. dollars worth of business a year and operated in over 125 countries with 40 offices and 1'200 employees worldwide.
At the same time, Marc Rich began to build a new, smaller commodity trading company that traded in oils and metals and had a staff of about 300 people, mainly located in London and Switzerland. While this commodities business was sold to the management in 2003, Marc Rich still oversees a financial trading business as well as a real estate group which invests in the creation of new, or the refurbishing of existing, commercial and residential sites in Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Russia.
In September 1996, Marc Rich's second daughter, Gabrielle passed away, after having suffered from Hodgkin's disease and then leukemia since the age of 23.
In January 2001, Marc Rich was pardoned by President Clinton of all charges of that had been brought against him in the United States in 1983. President Clinton has said that he granted Marc Rich's pardon strictly on its merits and because he was convinced that Marc Rich was being prosecuted for acts that were not crimes, or that were only pursued on a civil basis against others.
see Executive Summary of the U.S. Criminal Case Against Marc Rich
Over the years Marc Rich's activities increasingly have involved philanthropy. These activities started over four decades ago. During the last two decades, the Foundations have donated over $150'000'000 to various charitable causes. He has created four foundations, including one for the purpose of finding a cure to leukemia, established after his daughter Gabrielle died of the disease in 1996. That foundation has made significant contributions to medical institutions around the world, including the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Yale University School of Medicine, the Rabin Medical Center and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
The vast majority of Marc Rich's philanthropic activities have been through his foundations making donations to charities throughout the world. Marc Rich currently is in the process of reducing the business and increasing his charitable activities. He has always taken an active role in deciding where the foundations – The Swiss Foundation for the Doron Prize, The Marc Rich Foundation for Education, Culture and Welfare, and The Gabrielle Rich Leukemia Research Foundation – direct their contributions to.
Marc Rich received three honorary doctorate: Bar-Ilan University, Ben Gurion University and Tel Aviv University for his philanthropic work. Video statement of Marc Rich for Bar Ilan University
The Sheba Medical Center honoured Dr. h.c. Marc Rich for his "outstanding support" with the "Sheba Humanitarian Award 2008". Also in 2008, he is also Honorary Fellow of the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center.
Marc Rich excels as a skier and patron of the arts.