Bill Gross – the world-renowned Philatelic Philanthropist
In this article we aim to get you acquainted with the famous American financial manager and author Bill Gross who has also become notable as a stamp collector.
This person has so many talents that it is definitely worth telling a bit about him and his hobby that has overgrown into a real life passion. So, let's begin our acquaintance with a few words about this great personality.
There are few American philatelists who do not know the name of Bill Gross. His collections are famed worldwide, and the auctions he holds send a ripple of excitement through the world of stamp collecting. He’s a major beneficiary to the world of stamp collecting (as to the wider world in general!), and has made several notable contributions to the store of our knowledge and our ability to pursue it.
However, some of us may not be familiar with this man’s biography, or how he came to be one of the world’s most respected philatelic philanthropists. Here, therefore, is a short rundown of Gross' life, career, and passion for stamp collecting.
Bill Gross – Overview
Bill Gross is well known in the world of American stamp collecting. In 2005, he became the third person ever to complete a collection of 19th century American postage stamps. He also has a gallery in the American Postal Museum.
This is currently the largest museum of philately in the world, an achievement it has gained through Gross's influence and patronage. He's described stamp collecting as 'An educational and rewarding hobby', and frequently emphasizes the historical importance of the stamps which fascinate him. Recently, he has announced his intention to put up a selection of early Hawaiian stamps for auction in New York, including a rare and keenly sought Hawaiian 5c blue cover. There is little doubt that Gross has made a substantial impression upon the world of philately.
William Hunt "Bill" Gross was born in Middletown, Ohio, in 1944. His parents were Shirley and Sewell Mark Gross – the latter of which held a job as a sales executive for AK Steel Holding.
The family was comfortable, but possessed nothing like the vast acres of wealth which Gross would later build up through his career. In 1954, when Gross was 10, the family moved to San Francisco, and in 1966 Gross graduated from Duke University. His degree was in psychology, but he did not undertake a career in psychology per se. Instead, he initially joined the Navy, and then worked for a few months as a professional blackjack player in Las Vegas. Perhaps due to his knowledge of human psychology, Gross discovered that he had an innate talent for gambling. He was very, very good at it.
Rather than developing an addiction and problems with gambling debts, Gross instead honed his skills. He also learned some extremely valuable lessons about risk-spreading and odds-calculation which he later used to build his fortune. He arrived in Las Vegas with $2,000, and left with $10,000 – proof of his astonishing abilities to manage risk skillfully, make the right decisions, and generate a profit.
Between 1971 and 1976, Gross worked as an investment analyst for Pacific Life Mutual. Having established some impressive credentials during this period, he went on to co-found Pacific Investment Management (PIMCO). Here, he managed the world's largest bond fund (PIMCO's Total Return Fund), and built up a considerable personal fortune.
He used the proceeds from this to build up his stamp collection, as well as for some exemplary philanthropy – donating millions of dollars to Duke University, Medicin Sans Frontiers, and various worthy medical causes. The money for this philanthropy at times stemmed from stamp sales, as Gross is by no means averse to opening his impressive stamp collection to auction at times! In the nineties, Gross turned his hand to authorship, producing two popular books on investment (Bill Gross On Investing and Everything You've Heard About Investing Is Wrong).
When the Credit Crunch of 2008 hit, Gross lobbied for the federal takeover of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. When this duly occurred, Gross’ fund benefited to the tune of $1.7 billion – making Gross one of the relatively few people to end 2008 richer than they started it! He continued to aid the fortunes of PIMCO for several more years, before moving on to pastures new. In 2014, Gross left PIMCO for Janus Capital, a rival firm at which he holds the position of portfolio manager.
In 1968, Gross married Pamela Roberts, with whom he had two children. The pair divorced in 1985, and Gross went on to marry Sue J Frank, with whom he has a son. According to reports, Gross undertakes Transcendental Meditation in his spare time – a trend which appears to be curiously popular with investors, perhaps due to the stresses inherent in their positions!
Now in his seventies, Gross shows little sign of slowing down and settling into a comfortable retirement – although he has spoken with gloomy pessimism about the future of investment as we know it, and his own impending old age. Like many who have worked all of their lives, and dedicated their existences to the promotion of their fortunes and the world around them, the prospect of taking more of a back seat is perhaps rather daunting.
Gross' stamp collection is extensive, and very impressive indeed. In November 2005, a stamp swap with Donald Sundman completed Gross' collection of nineteenth century American stamps. He swapped an Inverted Jenny plate to Sundman for a 1c 1868 "Z-Grill" (of which only two are believed to be in existence), thus putting in place the final piece of his collection, and making him only the third person ever to own every 19th century American stamp (the other two being Robert Zoellner and Benjamin K Miller).
If you are a devoted stamp collector it will be particularly interesting to visit the website of the William H. Gross Collection that will bring you into the philatelic world of this renowned person. The website has been established to educate, enlighten, and inform the philatelic community, the media, and the general public about this historic series of auctions of Gross' stamp collection.
The information you will find there will allow you to get to know more about the valuable philatelic items that comprise the world famous Bill Gross' stamp collection and the auctions at which they were or will be sold.
You can read more about Bill Gross' stamp collection and the story of its creation by clicking the following link.
Gross has made considerable contributions to the world of philately, and continues to take an active interest in philatelic developments. Auctions from his collection are always eagerly anticipated, and Gross is notably happy to showcase the rarities in his collection. Indeed, he has a gallery at the Washington DC American Postal Museum, in which some of the gems of his collection can be seen, grouped thematically and beautifully curated.
Written by Anne Gater