The Baroness Aileen Mindel Bronfman de Gunzburg, known to her friends and family as Minda, was a remarkable woman – an heiress who devoted her life to art and scholarship. She was born in Canada in 1925 as the oldest of the four children of Samuel Bronfman, whose family had migrated to Saskatchewan from Czarist Russia and who went on to run Seagram Co. Ltd.
Raised in Montreal, Minda Bronfman came to the United States to attend Smith College and then Columbia University, where she received a master’s degree in political science and history. Minda went to work as a researcher for Time magazine at $60 a week at a time when her share of Seagram dividends alone came to $200,000 a year. She also worked at Lehman Brothers, the investment firm. In 1953, she married Alain de Gunzburg, who became chairman of the board of G. M. Mumm & Company, one of the world’s leading champagne producers.
Minda de Gunzburg was active in numerous philanthropic organizations. In 1970, she established the ASDA (Association for the Support and Diffusion of Art) Foundation, with offices in Washington, Paris and Montreal, to further special research in the arts. She died in 1985 at the age of 60. Baron Alain de Gunzburg died in May of 2004.
The de Gunzburg children, Charles and Jean, have provided significant support to CES, beginning in 1986 with a $10 million grant to Harvard for the renovation of Adolphus Busch Hall. This was followed in the late 1990s by $5 million to CES and its endowment. In 1986, the Center was renamed the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies and in 1989, CES moved into the renovated Busch Hall.