Who is Peter Nygard?
His net worth is $1.4 billion, which he has earned through his business ventures. He made history as the first businessman to sell a car in China in 1975. As of 2019, his total assets are valued at around $400 million. To achieve such success, he started with a small grocery shop by selling vegetables and fruits in 1969 for $20,000. He also began an import-export firm called “Nygard & Company” in Helsinki, Finland. In 1972, he moved it to Boston, Massachusetts, renamed “Nygard International.” His company became one of the largest importers of automobiles from Japan.
His most successful investment came about when he discovered the potential of the Chinese market in 1979. After some research, he founded “Nygard Group Limited” in Hong Kong and sold cars there for four years before opening his business office in Beijing in 1984. By 1988, he had made over US$100 million from his sales in China, making him the first person ever to make money in China. From 1994 until 2006, he served on the board for General Motors. Nowadays, he continues to be involved with the G.M. organization as Chairman Emeritus. He also serves as the director of BMW AG and Peugeot SA in France and the Director of Ford Motor Company in Europe. Also, he chairs the Board of Fisker Automotive L.L.C., which manufactures luxury electric vehicles. Nygard is married to Mary Ann Nygard. Together they have five children: John, James; Timothy; Mark, and Elizabeth.
In addition, he has been involved in the entertainment industry for several decades. Since 1974, he has appeared in various television shows, including Lateline, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and Saturday Night Live. He also participated in a documentary called ‘The Selling of Detroit,’ which premiered on PBS in October 2015. This documentary follows three prominent business people who were part of the American automotive industry in the 1960s and 1970s.
Early life. Peter Nygard was born in Kajanen village in the municipality of Lappeenranta, Finland on April 30th, 1941, to Finnish parents Reino Vähämäki and Aila Peter Nygård. His father worked as a farmer while his mother ran her homemaking agency called Aila Nygaard Ltd. During their time together, they taught Nygard a lot about the importance of family.
During World War II, his family lived in poverty when the Nazis occupied much of Northern Europe. They survived because the Soviet Union employed his grandfather. However, this wasn’t enough to provide food and shelter for them. During this challenging period, Peter Nygard attended a vocational school where he learned how to repair shoes and boots, which helped his future career immensely.
During Nygard’s childhood, the U.S.S.R. gained independence after World War II. His family decided to live in Russia instead of returning to Finland, which turned out to be beneficial. At age 11, Peter Nygard enrolled at a high school in Moscow in 1955. There he studied English and mathematics. He then returned to Finland for six months before moving back to Moscow for another two years in East Germany.
During his early teen years, he developed a passion for cars. It all started when he saw a Fiat 500 at 14. That’s when he knew that he wanted to drive a car someday. Nygard wanted to do something other than study during these times, so he took computer courses at night to pay for university. However, he didn’t complete college and went back to being an apprentice mechanic.
Career. At 17, Peter Nygard got a job working for Volkswagen in Pertunmaa, Finland. In 1967, he left Volkswagen and joined a Russian company as a management trainee. About two years later, he moved to Tokyo, Japan. Nygard met his wife-to-be, Mary Ann Bowers Nygard, whom he married in 1972. They have since divorced, but they remain good friends.
After marrying Mary, Peter Nygard began researching the auto industry and its potential. This led to his founding of the Peter Nygard Group Limited in 1980. His goal was to sell imported European cars in China. For this purpose, he started a new company called AutoChina International Limited (A.C.I.L.) and invested $1 million. With A.C.I.L., Nygard built five dealerships. However, it failed as his customers couldn’t come up with a big enough amount of money to buy cars from him.
As a result, Peter Nygard left the automobile business and focused his attention on real estate development with the help of his former partner William G. Baker. In 1983, he purchased 25 acres in Irvine, California. Nygard became America’s first billionaire businessman to specialize in residential properties with this venture.
About 13 years later, in 1996, he founded Nygard Land Corporation. Two years later, Peter Nygard made another acquisition by buying a large tract of land near downtown Los Angeles. He opened the Nygard Towne Center shopping mall in Irvine the following year. Another thing Nygard did was expand into Asia. Specifically, he bought plots of land in Hong Kong and Beijing, China. By doing so, he hoped to gain access to Asian markets. His plans were unsuccessful, and he eventually sold off most of his properties there.
In 2002, Peter Nygard purchased the New York Yankees, baseball team. However, he only held stock in the organization until 2003, when he became the majority owner. Even though he owns a minority stake in the Yankees, he has been responsible for some significant decisions regarding the franchise, such as hiring Joe Girardi as manager. As part of his investment strategy in the Yankees, he co-founded and funded the Nygard Foundation.
In 2005, Peter Nygard bought a sports club in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Its name is Ice Hockey Club Dynamo Stalingrad. He brought along several American investors interested in investing in the hockey club. While Nygard invested $25 million in the club, he is willing to spend more if necessary.
Today, Nygard is one of the richest men in the United States due to his vast investments. His net worth currently stands at around $2 billion. Aside from the Yankees, Nygard owns shares in companies like Pacific Sunwear, Diversified Holdings, Alcon Laboratories, Rona Inc., West Coast Entertainment Company, Marston Industries, Cargill, Inc., Re/Max Properties, Inc., North Star Investment Management L.L.C., Molycorp Minerals L.L.C., and many other businesses.
Early Life. When he was born, Nygard came from an upper-class family in Sweden and Germany. He enjoyed playing football at a young age. He took after his father, Michael, from school days on, who went into the military career when Nygard was three years old.
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