Claude Dauphin

Nicholas Oppenheimer
Nicholas Oppenheimer
September 4, 2016
De Beers logo
De Beers
September 4, 2016

Claude Dauphin

  • Company: Trafigura (Former Executive Chairman)
  • Year of birth: 1951
  • Last known country of residence: France

Main achievements in the field: A 22-year track record of profitable growth, investment and job creation at Trafigura; He reshaped his family’s century-old French waste recycling business into Ecore, a European industry leader; he received the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur as a French entrepreneur in 2001. Previous places of work: Marc Rich & Co.; Brandeis Goldschmidt; Ecore


Claude Dauphin was born in Houlgate, Normandy. He went to school in Bayeux until age 16 when he went to work for his father’s scrap metal business. He married his wife, Catherine, in 1976 at age 25 in Caen 6 months after meeting her. He went on to become a billionaire and continued working until he died of cancer in 2015 at age 64 whilst on a business trip in Colombia.


After working for his family’s scrap metal business, he moved to Paris to pursue a career working for the commodities broker Brandeis Goldschmidt, a ring-dealing member of the London Metal Exchange, as a specialist trader in ferro-alloys.

He is lauded for “his energy, drive and capacity for hard work; his commitment to excellence in all his endeavours; his courage and entrepreneurial appetite for risk; his brilliant and intuitive commercial judgment; his humanity and generosity of spirit; the ferocious loyalty and friendship he gave and drew from those around him; his charm and impish humour.”

In 1977, he joined Marc Rich & Co. as Country Manager for Bolivia, based in La Paz. He was promoted, initially to trade non-ferrous concentrates in New York, and then later to company headquarters in Zug, Switzerland as Head of Lead and Zinc. In 1988, he became Head of Oil Trading, based in London.

Claude Dauphin’s career spanned more than three decades during which he founded Trafigura in 1993, a company specialising in commodity trading (oil, metals and ores) and developed it from modest beginnings into one of the world’s leading trading firms.

He established a culture at Trafigura that became one of its enduring hallmarks: collegiality, attention to detail and extreme hard work. He became an inspirational mentor to many multinational employees.

His highly developed skills of persuasion and negotiation, coupled with an infectious humour and a love of the finer things of life made him a successful businessman. His approach to business strategy was intuitive as opposed to analytical but nonetheless built on sound principles that have stood the test of time: diversification; long-term investment in logistics; and smart and unsentimental use of capital. “Stay nimble, stay liquid, stay hungry,” remained his motto to the end.


Claude Dauphin was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, he died on the last day of a highly successful financial year for the company he created on 30 September 2015, during a business trip to Colombia.

He is mourned by his widow Catherine; his children Aurélie, Guillaume and Charlotte, and by his five young grandchildren Maya, Alexander, Farah, Sebastian and Victoria and other members of his family.

He was active in the philanthropic work of the Trafigura Foundation.