History of the Foundation

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Portrait of Axel Wenner-GrenAxel Wenner-Gren was a Swedish industrialist who in the early years of the 20th Century had the foresight to recognize the potential of both the domestic vacuum cleaner and door-to-door marketing techniques. By 1925 he owned the Electrolux Corporation, which he rapidly expanded into a multimillion dollar enterprise. 

The original endowment to the Foundation was just under $2 million in Electrolux stock. In 1945 Wenner-Gren also provided funds to purchase a brownstone on the Upper East Side of New York City, which was the Foundation’s US headquarters until 1979. He also provided funds for the purchase of Burg Wartenstein Cas