Peter Munk was one of the co-founders of Clairtone Sound Corporation, a Canadian electronics company that was active in the 1960s. Clairtone was known for its high-end and stylish audio systems, and it quickly gained popularity among music lovers and design enthusiasts alike. He co-founded several successful companies, including Clairtone and Barrick Gold Corporation, one of the world’s largest gold mining companies.
Peter Munk was born into a wealthy Hungarian-Jewish family in Budapest to Lajos “Louis” Munk and Katharina Adler Munk in the early 1930s. His grandfather, Gábor “Gabriel” Munk, who came from a long line of rabbis, made his fortune from the Austro-Hungarian distribution rights of the famous Viennese chocolate brand, Manner. Gábor later invested in real estate but used most of his remaining wealth to purchase safe passage out of Hungary for his family during World War II, including his grandson, Peter.
In 1944, when Munk was 16 years old, Hungary was invaded by Nazi Germany. He, along with 14 members of his family, escaped on the Kastner train, which transported 1,684 Jews to safety in Switzerland. The journey was arranged by Rudolf Kastner of the Zionist Aid and Rescue Committee through secret negotiations with high-ranking Nazi Adolf Eichmann. Munk’s mother, who divorced his father when he was four years old, was deported from Budapest to Auschwitz concentration camp the same year. She survived but later died by suicide.
Munk arrived in Canada in 1948 through Switzerland on a student visa. He graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in electrical engineering in 1952. Munk spoke fondly of Canada, saying that he arrived in the country not knowing the language or anyone, and praised Canada for not asking about a person’s origins, only their destiny.
Peter Munk married Linda Joy Gutterson on September 3, 1956, when she was 19 years old, and he was 10 years her senior. Linda’s father provided Munk with the start-up capital to fund his first company. Despite separating and reuniting multiple times in the 1960s, the couple had three children and maintained a good relationship after their divorce in 1970. Following their separation, Linda pursued an academic career and eventually became a professor of English at the University of Toronto.
Munk married Melanie Jane Bosanquet, his second wife, on June 26, 1973. They had two children together. Melanie is related to Charles Palmer-Tomkinson, a British landowner and Olympic skier. Munk and his wife built a ski chalet called Viti Levu in Klosters in 1972, where they spent many winters skiing together.
Peter Munk’s children include Anthony Munk, who is a senior managing director at Onex private equity; Nina Munk, a journalist and contributing editor for Vanity Fair; Marc-David Munk, a physician and healthcare executive; Natalie; and Cheyne. In his later years, Munk had a pacemaker fitted to regulate his heartbeat.
Under his leadership, Barrick Gold grew into a multi-billion-dollar company with operations in many countries around the world. He first co-founded Clairtone and then when that collapsed, he and Gilmour invested in a plot of ocean-front land in Fiji, which they turned into a hotel and resort.
This eventually grew into the Southern Pacific Hotel Corporation, which boasted a portfolio of 54 resorts across Australia and the South Pacific at its height. In 1978, Munk’s firm inked a deal with the President of Egypt to construct a resort near the Great Pyramids. However, the project was canceled by Anwar Sadat, leading Munk to file a lawsuit against the Egyptian government. Ultimately, Munk won the arbitration case at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.
After the Egyptian venture fell through, Munk returned to Canada in 1979 to establish a new venture named Barrick, which he eventually grew into the world’s largest gold company. Despite facing skepticism and criticism from the financial establishment, Munk persevered and succeeded in building the company.
Munk also founded, chaired, and served as CEO of Trizec Properties, a prominent American real estate investment trust, which he eventually sold to Brookfield Properties in 2006 for around $9 billion.
In 2007, Munk invested in a former naval base on the Adriatic Sea called Porto Montenegro. Alongside his partners, he transformed the site into a luxury superyacht destination that rivaled Cannes and Monte Carlo. As the majority shareholder of Montport Capital, Munk owned the marina and resort of Porto Montenegro, which helped put Montenegro on the map as a high-end tourism destination. In 2016, he sold the marina and hotel to Investment Corporation of Dubai, a sovereign wealth fund, for an undisclosed sum, though it was estimated to be approximately 200 million euros.
Munk was widely recognized for his contributions to the business world. He was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame in 1997 and was named Canadian Businessman of the Year in 2002. He also received many other honors and awards for his business achievements.
Beyond his business successes, Munk was known for his philanthropy. He donated millions of dollars to various causes and organizations, including hospitals, universities, and charities. He established the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the Toronto General & Western Hospital, which has become a world-renowned center for cardiac research and treatment.Beyond his business successes, Munk was known for his philanthropy. He donated millions of dollars to various causes and organizations, including hospitals, universities, and charities. He established the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the Toronto General & Western Hospital, which has become a world-renowned center for cardiac research and treatment.
Munk was also passionate about promoting entrepreneurship and innovation. He established the Peter Munk Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Toronto, which supports and encourages entrepreneurship among students and alumni.
Overall, Peter Munk had a remarkable career and made significant contributions to both the business world and the community through his philanthropy and support for entrepreneurship.
Peter Munk’s net worth at the time of his death in March 2018 was estimated to be around $1.5 billion USD according to Forbes.
Peter Munk received numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including:
Additionally, Munk was recognized for his contributions to the arts, particularly in the field of music. He was a major supporter of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at Toronto General Hospital was named in his honor. Munk also supported many educational institutions, including the University of Toronto and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.