When Levi Strauss died childless in 1902, the bulk of his $6 million estate, worth $175 million in today’s dollars, passed to his four nephews and other relatives.
Just over a century later, some of his descendants are now worth about $5.6 billion, fueled by Levi Strauss & Co.’s first day of public trading in more than three decades on Thursday.
The Haas family, which traces their lineage to the iconic blue-jean maker’s founder, owns more than 61 percent of the San Francisco-based apparel maker’s shares. This excludes stock held by family charities, according to company filings. The shares are owned by at least two branches of the family’s second and third generations.
Mimi Haas, a prominent philanthropist, is the company’s biggest shareholder with a stake valued at about $1.3 billion. She’s a vice chair of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the widow of Levi Strauss’s grandnephew by marriage, Peter Haas Sr., who worked at the family business for 60 years until his death in 2005.
He and his brother, Walter, succeeded their father, Walter Sr., in running the business in the 1940s and helped oversee the first IPO in 1971. The family orchestrated a leveraged buyout 14 years later after revenue and profits sagged.