The Visionary Life of Harry Guggenheim:
From Aviation and Rocketry to the Creation
of an Art Dynasty


A veteran Forbes journalist brings to life the brilliant and complex Harry Guggenheim in the first-ever biography on this groundbreaking American figure.

 At the turn of the last century, the Guggenheim family ran the most powerful mining conglomerate on earth. Decades later came the Guggenheim museum, which became the hub of the world’s most powerful art brand. In between, the Guggenheim name was uttered in every field from aviation to politics, from journalism to rocketry.

But who was behind this epic sphere of influence? It took three generations of Guggenheims to build the wealth in its first era. Yet it was the singular force of Harry Guggenheim who would guide the family’s next generation of businesses into modernity. Part angel investor, part entrepreneur, part technologist, Harry launched businesses whose impact on 20th century America went far beyond the Guggenheims’ mines or museum. His visionary investments continue to profoundly influence our world and hold valuable business lessons for billionaire dynasty builders like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

A flawed but brilliant man, Harry Guggenheim was the confidante to five American presidents and a key financial force behind commercial aviation and space exploration, two innovations that catapulted the nation into the future.

With unprecedented archival access, Dirk Smillie astutely examines Harry’s business acumen, intellectual curiosities, and the world he lived in.  Whether it was his paradoxical friendship with Charles Lindbergh or his dynamic and ambitions family members, Smillie puts Harry’s life and work in rich context.  Epic and intimate, The Business of Tomorrow reveals the fascinating life of an American icon.

Editorial Reviews

“Smillie, a former senior reporter for Forbes who also served as chief content officer at Guggenheim Partners, offers a lively portrait of entrepreneur and philanthropist Harry Guggenheim (1890-1971)—a man of impressive achievements and staggering wealth. [The Business of Tomorrow] recounts Harry’s public roles and political influence: his financing of technology breakthroughs to advance the air age and funding of Robert Goddard, father of modern rocketry. He served as ambassador to Cuba during a time of turmoil on the island; co-founded the Pulitzer Prize-winning Long Island newspaper, Newsday; bought and raced thoroughbreds; and oversaw the building of the Guggenheim Museum, which had been his uncle’s dream…A brisk, well-researched biography.”



“Jazz Age eccentric multimillionaire Harry Guggenheim comes to life in this deep dive from Smillie, a senior reporter at Forbes magazine. Smillie covers his adventures in Mexico’s deserts, his subsequent ventures bankrolling promotional campaigns with Charles Lindbergh, his position as the U.S. ambassador to Cuba, and his investments in early aviation. But, Smillie shows, it was conquering the world of art that proved to be Guggenheim’s biggest challenge. Well-researched and breezy, Smillie successfully creates a page-turning look at the power of wealth set against the backdrop of political turmoil, prohibition-era parties, and groundbreaking technological developments. History buffs will enjoy this comprehensive account.”

Publishers Weekly


“If the news media were covering Harry Guggenheim today, he’d be a cross between Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch. Dirk Smillie’s book is a superbly animated story about an aristocratic futurist from the past. The Business of Tomorrow takes the reader on a plane ride and then a rocket ship with one of the American Century’s most compelling, and lesser-known subjects.” 

Claire Atkinson

Business Journalist, Insider, NBC News, and New York Post

“The birth of the Guggenheim Museum comes alive through the pages of this well researched biography. Harry Guggenheim was able to fulfill the dream of Frank Lloyd Wright and Solomon Guggenheim while having the vision to build the collection into one of the most powerful and iconic museums in the world.”

Lisa Immordino Vreeland

Director, “Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict”

“Impressively reported and brilliantly written. The Captain was worthy of such treatment.”

Bill Moyers

Former Press Secretary to President Lyndon Johnson, Publisher of Newsday

“Without Harry Guggenheim’s leadership, it is doubtful Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece museum would have happened.”

Richard Armstrong

Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

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