Urs Schwarzenbach, born on September 17, 1948, is the founder of Intex Exchange. He has been married to his wife Francesca Schwarzenbach-Mulhall for decades. They have two children named Sascha Schwarzenbach and Guy Schwarzenbach.
Schwarzenbach started working as a currency trader for a bank. He founded Intex Exchange in 1974, the biggest foreign exchange dealership in Switzerland. He made a lot of money in the early 80s.
Later he got into the real estate business and started investing in luxury hotels and restaurants. His most famous hotel is the Dolder Grand in Zurich. However, he also owns the Suvretta House hotel in St. Moritz.
He is an active polo player owning the Black Bears polo team. Additionally, Schwarzenbach is a member of the Guards Polo Club. His net worth is estimated at one billion dollars. Today is one of the most prominent Swiss financiers in art.
Urs Schwarzenbach art collection
Matisse, Picasso, Malevitch, Modigliani, Man Ray, Yves Klein, Gerhard Richter, Niki de Saint Phalle, Keith Haring are pieces of art owned by Schwarzenbach. His collection is a walk through the great moments of modern and contemporary art. It is not for the history of art that the customs authorities have attempted to inventory the collection of the Zurich billionaire. Instead, it was to track down fraud.
The man, best known as the owner of the Zurich luxury hotel Dolder Grand and for his appearances in the list of the 300 richest in Switzerland by Bilanz, is in the viewfinder of the General Directorate of Customs (DGD).
A new episode of this judicial soap opera that keeps the Zurich press in suspense took place before the District Court of Bülach. Urs Schwarzenbach had to explain himself on the undeclared import of 123 works. He is also accused of having undervalued the value of 27 other coins using false invoices. He would thus have saved more than 10 million VAT costs on a treasure estimated at at least 130 million francs. The DGD demanded a record fine of 4 million francs.
A village in England, a palace in Morocco – Urs Schwarzenbach family office
Son of a print shop owner, born in 1948, Urs Schwarzenbach doesn’t get involved in politics. He prefers polo (it is said that he plays with Prince Charles) and horse racing. In French-speaking Switzerland, he is best known for having financed Nino des Buissonnets, the horse that became a star. This allowed the Jura resident Steve Guerdat to win an Olympic gold medal in 2012.
Urs Schwarzenbach made his fortune in currency trading. In the early 1970s, he went to work in London for the Société de Banque Suisse. England has since become his second home. He owns several properties there, as well as a bucolic village, Hambleden, acquired for 38 million pounds. In 2007, he outbid other foreign buyers to acquire Culham Court, a 650-acre riverside estate. It’s located downstream of Henley-on-Thames on the Berkshire bank. Schwarzenbach bought the estate for £35 million.
His heritage also includes a villa in Saint-Moritz and a palace in Morocco
Neighbors had to get used to Urs Schwarzenbach’s drone, helicopter, and the sounds of a private jet. It was not until the early 2000s when he took over the Dolder Grand Hotel, a five-star hotel perched on the Züriberg, that the discreet billionaire began to be talked about. We wonder about this hitherto unknown man, who took it into his head to restore its luster to a historic jewel of the Lake Zurich hotel industry.
Urs Schwarzenbach hires the British star architect Norman Forster and invests no less than 500 million in the transformation of the establishment. The hotel, which has seen Winston Churchill, the Shah of Iran, Sophia Loren, Bill Clinton, and the Rolling Stones pass by, has never ceased to fascinate.
This is where Urs Schwarzenbach exhibits part of his extensive art collection. There also that last March, the Swiss customs authorities carried out a spectacular search. They took down thirty works from the walls of the hotel, under the dumbfounded eyes of the customers.
“I wanted to save time”
Urs Schwarzenbach entered the radar of the authorities on September 20, 2012. He returned from a trip with his private jet and left Zurich airport using the green “nothing to declare” corridor. With him, he carries the painting An Ancient Custom by Edwin Long, worth 302,400 francs. He also carries an antique copper and enamel box in the shape of an elephant, worth 11,372 francs, details the 75-page indictment. Later, he will explain that he did not want to evade taxes but to “save time” by avoiding “boring administrative procedures.”
He appeared at his trial wearing a sober suit, flanked by his advisers and lawyers. Relaxed, between two hearings, he avoids journalists but does not deprive himself of a few thunderous bursts of laughter with his close guard. After all, this is not the first nor the last time that he faces a judge.
Suspected of the illegal art trade
In the context of another procedure, the Tax Administration of the Canton of Zurich, suspecting the billionaire of carrying out an undeclared trade in works of art from his Zurich villa, demanded tax arrears and froze 220 million francs to an account in Switzerland, as a preventive measure. At the end of November 2017, the Zurich court ruled in favor of the tax authorities and ordered the payment of an amount of 150 million francs.
Via his lawyer, the billionaire denounces a relentlessness of the swiss authorities, castigates the lack of evidence of the accusation, and finally demands the acquittal. The one whom the authorities suspect of being a fraudulent art dealer describes himself as a simple, passionate collector.
Urs Schwarzenbach has always objected to wrongdoing. But he lost his most recent court case in March 2021.
Schwarzenbach is still being in the focus of interest for Swiss customs authorities for further millions for the art import fraud that took place between 2008 and 2013.