Mitchell Rales

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Mitchell Rales
Glenstone Museum Pavilion Dedication Opening Reception (30094703717).jpg
Rales in 2018
Born1956 (age 64–65)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US
EducationMiami University
Known forCo-founder, Danaher Corporation
Spouse(s)Lyn Goldthorp (div. 1999)
Emily Wei (m. 2008)
FamilySteven M. Rales (brother)

Mitchell Rales (born 1956) is an American billionaire businessman, and a collector of modern and contemporary art. He co-founded Danaher Corporation in 1983 and is the chairman of its executive committee. Rales is one of the Washington, D.C. region's eleven billionaires.[1] In collaboration with his wife Emily Wei Rales, an art historian and curator, he has established Glenstone, a private museum in Potomac, Maryland, which presents exhibitions of their collection of art.[2] As of October 2021, his net worth was estimated at US$7 billion.[3]

Early life[]

Rales was born in 1956 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[4][5] Raised in a Jewish family, Rales is one of four sons of Ruth (née Abramson) and .[6][7] Norman Rales was raised in an orphanage, the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in New York City, and later became a successful businessman, who sold his building supply company in Washington, D.C. to his employees in what was the first employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) transaction in the US. Norman Rales was also a philanthropist, having founded the Norman and Ruth Rales Foundation and the Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service. Mitchell Rales has three brothers: Joshua, Steven, and Stewart.[8][9][10]

Rales grew up in Bethesda, Maryland and graduated from Walt Whitman High School in 1974.[11] As captain of both the high school football and baseball teams, Rales was an outstanding high school athlete.[5] He earned a degree in business administration at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1978, and was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.[12]


In 1979, Rales left his father's real estate firm to found Equity Group Holdings, with his brother, Steven M. Rales. Using junk bonds, they bought a diversified line of businesses. In 1978, they changed the name to Diversified Mortgage Investors, and then to Danaher, in 1984.

In the 1980s, the AM side of radio station WGMS was sold off to Washington, D.C., venture capitalists Steven and Mitchell Rales, who converted the music station into the first frequency for WTEM, a sports-talk station, in 1992. In 1988, he made a hostile takeover bid for Interco, Inc., which was, at the time, the nation's largest manufacturer of furniture and men's shoes (owning both Converse shoes and the Ethan Allen furniture).[13][14] He later ended the bid after five months with a profit of $60 million.[15]

In 1995, Rales and his brother founded Colfax, a Richmond, Virginia industrial pumps manufacturer, which had an initial public offering in May 2008.[16]


Rales has expressed a strong desire to spend his money philanthropically, saying to the Washington Post in 2018, "When we go, there's not going to be money bestowed on children and grandchildren in any meaningful way. This is about reallocating the money we had the good fortune of making to other causes."[5] Rales is the president of the National Gallery of Art and is a former board member of the Hirshhorn Museum.[17]


Water Court at Glenstone

Rales and his wife, Emily Wei Rales, developed and financed Glenstone, a contemporary art museum in Potomac, Maryland.[18][19] The museum first opened in 2006 and displays the Rales's collection of post-World War II art, including paintings, sculptures, and both indoor and outdoor installations.[20] A major $219 million expansion to Glenstone was opened in 2018 that increased both the gallery space and the wooded land surrounding the galleries. The museum is free and open to the public via online booking.[21][22][23]

Personal life[]

Rales has been married twice:

  • Lyn Goldthorp Rales with whom he has two children. They divorced in 1999.[24] Their son Matthew founded the grass-based livestock farm ‘Grassential LLC.’[25][26]
  • Emily Wei (b. 1976), the director and chief curator of Glenstone.[2][27] They married in 2008.[5]

He lives in Potomac, Maryland.[3]


  1. ^ Sernovitz, Daniel J. (2018-09-06). "Contractor sues Glenstone museum for $24 million 'disorganized' expansion planning". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  2. ^ a b Vogel, Carol (April 18, 2013). "Mitchell and Emily Rales Are Expanding Glenstone Museum". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b "Forbes profile: Mitchell Rales". Forbes. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  4. ^ Alessia Zorloni (19 August 2016). Art Wealth Management: Managing Private Art Collections. Springer. p. 135. ISBN 978-3-319-24241-5. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Edgers, Geoff (2018-09-24). "Meet the very wealthy, very private couple behind Washington's most original museum". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  6. ^ Washington Jewish Week: "Five local Jews make Forbes richest list" Archived 2012-09-05 at the Wayback Machine October 7, 2009
  7. ^ Art Wealth Management : Managing Private Art Collections. Zorloni, Alessia. [Cham], Switzerland. 2016-08-19. ISBN 978-3319242415. OCLC 957318205.CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ Sun Sentinel: "Norman Rales, orphan to wealthy businessman and philanthropist, is dead at 88" By Lisa J. Huriash March 15, 2012
  9. ^ Jewish Family Service: "Ruth Rales, 81, Philanthropist by Tal Abbady April 1, 2004
  10. ^ "Obituary On Sunday, March 28, 2004, Ruth Rales, of Hillsboro Beach, FL and Potomac, MD". The Washington Post. March 30, 2004.
  11. ^ Murphy, Carolyn and Lynn Stander (September 2005). "We Knew Them When". Bethesda Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-08-20.
  12. ^ Kiger, Patrick J. (November 1994). "The good guys: Steven and Mitchell Rales have quietly brown-bagged their way to fortunes worth half a billion dollars. But they'd rather you didn't know that. Or them". Regardie's Magazine.
  13. ^ David A. Vise; Steve Coll (August 23, 1988). "The Rales Brothers Play for Big Stakes; Little-Known Area Family Builds an Industrial Empire". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 23, 2012.
  14. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Request on Interco". The New York Times. August 4, 1988.
  15. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Rales Brothers Sell Their Interco Stake". The New York Times. December 16, 1988.
  16. ^ Thomas Heath (July 7, 2008). "The Quiet Dynamism of the Brothers Rales". The Washington Post.
  17. ^ Selvin, Claire (2019-09-27). "National Gallery of Art Names Darren Walker Trustee, Mitchell Rales Appointed President". ARTnews. Retrieved 2019-09-28.
  18. ^ Russeth, Andrew (2018-09-21). "Maximum Minimalism: Emily and Mitchell Rales's Glenstone Museum Grows". Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  19. ^ "Mitchell and Emily Rales". Inside Philanthropy. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  20. ^ Sussman, Anna Louie (2018-09-25). "Inside the $200 Million Expansion of America's New Must-See Museum". Artsy. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  21. ^ Pogrebin, Robert (2018-09-21). "Glenstone, a Private Art Xanadu, Invests $200 Million in a Public Vision". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2018-10-02. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  22. ^ Smee, Sebastian; Higgins, Adrian. "Glenstone: See inside (and outside) D.C.'s newest museum experience". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2018-10-02. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  23. ^ Capps, Kriston (2018-09-27). "The New Glenstone is a Contemporary Art Retreat in the Wilds of Montgomery County". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2018-10-18.
  24. ^ Washington City Paper: "A Very Private Collection - Why won't Mitchell Rales do the docent thing? A tale of a Maryland museum not open to the public" by Angela Valdez June 6, 2008
  25. ^ Intelligent Food: Mitchell Rales, founder of the bio-diverse animal farm, 'Grassential LLC’ retrieved July 5, 2014
  26. ^ Lancaster Farming: "Raw Milk Soiree" by Tracy Sutton retrieved July 5, 2014
  27. ^ Kennicott, Philip (May 17, 2013). "Museums". The Washington Post.
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