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Simon Iturri Patino

Don Simon Iturri Patino was a Bolivian industrialist who was among the world's wealthiest men at the time of his death. With a fortune built from ownership of a majority of the tin industry in Bolivia, Patino was nicknamed "The Andean Rockefeller". During World War II, Patino was believed to be one of the five wealthiest men in the world.Current Biography, 1941, pp. 645-47


Patino's biographers are not in agreement on the details of his early life. Many wrote that he was a cholo, with a mixed Quechua and Spanish heritage, and born to a poor mother, while his authorized biography holds that he was solely of European ancestry, and the son of a provincial leader. He was actually the illegitimate son of Eugenio Iturri, a Basque, by Maria Patino, from Cochabamba. Before entering the mining industry, he either managed a store in Oruro, or spent years in private schools.

Eventually, Patino started in mining with Compania Hunanchaca de Bolivia, a silver company, and then with Fricke y Compania. Patino was assigned to collections for the store, and in 1894, he agreed to accept a deed of land in compromise for a $250 debt owed by a prospector. The deed turned out to be for the rocky side of a mountain, and Patino was fired from his job for settling an account in exchange for a worthless piece of property. Legend has it that Patino was forced to pay back the store from his own funds, and was stuck with his own bad bargain. "World Tin King Richest Man of Latin-America", UPI report, April 2, 1931, in The Daily Courier,

The mountain, located near Llallagua, turned out to be richer in minerals than anyone had imagined. Although the first several years of work yielded little, the turning point came in 1900 when Patino located a very rich vein of tin, later called "La Salvadora" (The Savior). Over the next 10 years he built up the control of nearby mines and other important mines in Bolivia, including Catavi, Siglo XX, Uncia and Huanuni. By the 1920s he had also bought out Chilean interests in his mining company and went on to buy tin smelters in England and Germany. By the 1940s he controlled the international tin market and was one of the wealthiest men in the world, hence his "title" King of Tin (Rey del Estano).

He had been living between Europe and Bolivia since around 1912 and after a heart attack in 1924 he moved abroad permanently, first to Paris, then to New York and finally to Buenos Aires where he died. While living in Paris he was appointed Minister to France and represented Bolivia in 1938 at the Evian Conference.

His great wealth made him powerful in Bolivian politics and he was locally both admired and hated.

Previous to a political shift away from his allies in the government Patino merged the company owning his Bolivian tin property with a British company active in Malaysia.

Patino died in 1947 and was buried high in the Bolivian mountains of his birth in a giant blue marble tomb.


He married in Oruro on 1 May 1889 Albina Rodriguez Ocampo, by whom he had five children:

Rene Patino Rodriguez (died 1976), unmarried and without issue

Antenor Patino Rodriguez

Graziella Patino Rodriguez, married to Jorge Ortiz Linares (died 1980)

Luz Mila Patino Rodriguez, married to Guy comte du Boisrouvray (died 1980), and had:

* Albina du Boisrouvray (born in Paris), married firstly to Swiss Bruno Bagnoud and secondly to Georges Casati, and had issue by first marriage:

** Francois-Xavier Bagnoud , unmarried and without issue

Elena Patino Rodriguez, married to Jose Lopez de Carrizosa, of the Marquesses del Merito (died 1942)


The Bolivian Revolution of 1952 nationalised the Patino Mines and it is claimed that his heir Antenor Patino had his hand in the military coup that deposed the leader of the revolution, then President Victor Paz Estenssoro, in the 1960s.

See also

Huanuni tin mine

External links

Biographical profile

Fundacion Simon I. Patino
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