Armand Hammer: An oil baron of many contradictions
In 1898, Julius Hammer, a cofounder of the Communist Party of the U.S., named his first-born Armand after the arm-and-hammer symbol of the Socialist Labor Party. Ironically, Armand Hammer, one of America's most notorious capitalists, a man who hobnobbed with presidents, prime ministers, kings, princes, dictators and industrial leaders, got his start from the Bolsheviks -- from none other than Lenin himself. Armand, like his father, was a man of vast contradictions, only more so. Julius was a successful businessman, and a die-hard Communist who retained two full-time servants and a chauffeur. Armand, after graduating from Columbia Medical School, went to Russia in 1921, convinced Lenin to give him the first non-Russian industrial concession and became a capitalist who never looked back. While in Russia, Hammer went from mining to banking and finally manufacturing pencils. He married a Russian woman and had a son, Julian. After meeting with Cheka officials (predecessor of the KGB) Hammer agreed to serve as a courier and to launder Soviet money.