Conversations with Richard C. Blum:
Businessman, Philanthropist, President Emeritus Board of Regents University of California.
Conducted by Victor Geraci, Ann Lage, and Lisa Rubens
2010-2014, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of
California, Berkeley, 2015.
Richard Blum is a businessman, philanthropist and public servant, a member and former
chair of the University of California Board of Regents. He serves on a host of cultural,
commercial and philanthropic boards. Born and raised in San Francisco, he is a graduate
of the University of California at Berkeley where he also earned his MBA. The fourteen
interviews in this oral history chronicle his career as a broker and his extraordinary
success as an investment banker through his company, Blum Capital. They cover his
early interest in Asia, both as an investor and as a trekker in the Himalayas, and the
critical role he has played ameliorating conditions for people in that region through his
American Himalaya Foundation. Interviews cover his growing interest in local and
national politics, his activities in support of the University of California, his marriage to
Senator Dianne Feinstein, his involvement with the Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton
foundations and the Brookings Institution. A capstone of his career is the creation and
leadership of the Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley. Readers will
be regaled by stories of his entrepreneurship—buying the Ringling Bros. and Barnum &
Bailey Circus, running CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm—as
well as his personal relationships with luminaries such as the Dalai Lama and Sir
See related oral histories in Business and University of California History.