We live in an era of truly incredible wealth and vast inequality between the richest billionaires and every day middle class people. The world’s 50 richest families have a net worth of $ 1.2 trillion. The Koch family has a combined total wealth of $ 100 billion, up from $ 98.7 billion at the end of 2018 and enough to make them the second wealthiest family in the US. The family is also very influential in politics, especially in far-south issues. Coaches have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to bring their fringe political ideas, especially to the center of American politics. The family’s fate began in 1925 when the late Fred Koch joined the Keith-Winkler Engineering Company. The family’s fortune grew when his sons, Fred Jr., Charles, Bill, and the late David Koch took over their father’s business and started it. It is today in the powerful and successful group.
When Fred Sr. joined Keith-Winkler Engineering Co., based in Vinciata, Kansas, he quickly made a mark and was made a partner. The company became a major success with the technology to refine gasoline. Lawsuits from larger, more established companies prevented Koch’s company from using this new technology. Fred packed his bags and led Europe in the years before World War II. He got a chance to work for the famous Russian dictator Stalin, who in the 1940s paid Koch $ 500,000 to build 15 oil refineries in the Soviet Union. Koch also worked with American Nazi sympathizer William Rhodes Davis to build a huge oil refinery for the Third Reich. The Koch-built refinery was an integral part of Hitler’s war machine. The refinery produced hundreds of thousands of gallons for the Luftwaffe. It was destroyed in 1944 by Allied Airstrike.
Speaking to Fred Koch’s Nazis and Nazi sympathizers in 1938, he stated that the only sound countries in the world were Germany, Japan and Italy. He hired a nanny for his sons who were such a devoted Nazi, he returned to Germany in 1940 to join the Hitler cause. After Naz Nani left, Fred became a disciplinarian. He often beat his sons with a belt. This is just one of the crazy stories in Jane Mayer’s book “Dark Money”.
In 1940, Fred Koch founded the Wood River Oil and Refining Company. In 1946 he changed the company name to Rock Island Oil & Refining Company. He and his wife Mary had four sons – Fred Jr., Charles and twins David and Bill. Fred Jr. had no interest in the family business, which in 1960 was worth $ 80 million. However, Charles was very interested in the family business and joined it in 1961 when he was 26 years old. President of the company until 1966. When Fred Sr. died in 1967, Charles became chairman of his father’s company, which at the time was valued at $ 250 million. In 1968, Charles renamed the company Coach Industries after his father. David and Bill joined the family business in 1970 and 1971 respectively.
Under the Koch brothers, the family company expanded into asphalt, fertilizer, pulp, and paper manufacturing, ranching, natural gas, plastics, petroleum, energy, fiber and textiles, chemical development and production, commodities trade and finance.
However, not all were well behind closed doors. The brothers had different ideas on how to run the family business. At one point, the 20-year battle between the brothers became so bitter that they hired private investigators to dig up dirt on each other. At one point, Bill’s investigators went through the trash in the homes and offices of Charles, David, and their lawyers, after the bill allegedly bribed the trash takers and watchmen. Then, in 1980, Bill attempted a coup to take over the board of the family company and oust his brothers. Charles and David dominate the fight and expel the bill. He was given $ 400,000 to walk away. The problem was, Bill and Fred Jr. still own the shares of Koch Industries. So it was Bill and Fred Jr. vs. Charles and David. In 1983, the two brothers finally reached a colony. Bill was paid $ 620 million for his 21% stake in the company. Fred was paid $ 400 million. Then, two years later, in 1985, Bill and Fred took Charles and David to court on the grounds that their shares had been undervalued in the 1983 settlement. The case reached a settlement of $ 25 million.
However, this was not the end. In 1998, Koch vs. Koch Industries ruled the family drama. Charles and David win once again, and Bill tells reporters that he is going to appeal and call his brothers a crook. Bill and Fred eventually ended up with $ 1.1 billion each. Then, in 2001, Charles, David, and Bill Bill met in Palm Beach, the Florida estate signing the final settlement, dividing his father’s fortune and possessions. It was the first time the brothers dined together in nearly two decades.
The Koch brothers are also a force in politics. In 2017, Koch Industries gave $ 1.3 million to congressional candidates. In 2018, he spent $ 400 million in a midterm election. In 2020, he donated $ 1.5 million in the election cycle.
David Koch passed away on August 23, 2019, and left only one brother in Koch Industries. Prior to his death, Charles and David had a 42% stake in the family business. David left $ 41 billion for his widow, Julia Koch, and a 42% stake in Koch Industries for Julia and her three children, all in their mid-20s. Julia married David Koch in 1996 at their home in Southampton, New York. A former assistant at the fashion house Adolfo, Julia gave up her career to become the wife of a billionaire. She had a role as the wife of David Koch maintaining her residences in Manhattan (former apartment of Jackie Onassis), Southampton, Aspen and West Palm Beach. Julia was embraced by New York society and received much praise for marrying one of the richest people in the country. He is an active philanthropist who has funded the Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. In fact, it is Julia, who is credited with instilling a love for art in her husband. She was also a factor in the fact that she was more socially prominent than her brothers.
Today, Koch Industries brings in annual revenue of $ 110 billion.