Born in 1919 in Mazagan, Morocco, French businessman André Guelfi lived in
Switzerland for over 25 years. His father was a Corsican military
officer. He had already demonstrated a keen sense of business by the age of ten,
when he drove tourists along the beach. In 1936, he was hired by a local bank to
work as a debt collector, for which he earned a 15% commission. Soon he was
earning more than the bank manager himself.
André Guelfi invested his hard-earned money in sardine fishing: he invented
fish factory ships and became known as Dédé la Sardine. In 1939, he
enlisted in a regiment of Moroccan soldier in Italy and was recruited as a
driver. He quickly developed a passion for race car driving and participated in
the 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix.
In 1971, André Guelfi went to Paris and got started in the realty business
with the purchase of three palaces. The benefits and personal relations gained
through his marriage to Georges Pompidou's niece helped him to acquire
128 of the city's buildings.
In 1975, André Guelfi moved to Lausanne,
Switzerland. He settled into a family mansion overlooking Lake
Geneva, between the Musée
de l'Elysée and the Musée
Olympique. He sold the property to the Musée Olympique in 1993.
His role as negotiator for Elf caused him problems with the law. He cleared
himself through a defense plea in the form of an autobiography entitled Original,
published in 1999.
The businessman then bought Le
Coq Sportif, and devised sports sponsorship along the way. He befriended Juan
Antonio Samaranch, president of the IOC in Lausanne, and was drawn even
closer to the Olympic milieu. Today, André Guelfi travels the world in the
pilot's seat of his private jet. In 2000, he moved to Malta in the