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Thursday, March 11, 2021

A 39-Year-Old Fund Firm's Founder Dies

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

The founder of a 39-year-old, Midwestern mutual fund firm died earlier this week.

Richard H. Driehaus
Last night, Steve Weber, president and CEO of Driehaus Capital Management [profile], confirmed that the Chicago-based firm's founder, Richard Driehaus, passed away Tuesday. Driehaus was 78 years old.

The Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune, Crain's Chicago Business, FA, and MarketWatch all reported on the news.

A Chicago native, Richard H. Driehaus was an alumnus twice over from DePaul University. He worked at A.G. Becker, Mullaney, Wells & Co., and Jesup & Lamont in the 1970s. In 1979, he launched his own brokerage, Driehaus Securities Corporation, and in 1982 he launched Driehaus Capital Management. The firm entered the mutual fund business in 1996. And in 2011 he launched Driehaus Private Equity.

Driehaus' eponymous fund firm specializes in growth equity investing, and by the end of last month the firm had grown to $13.2 billion in AUM. The remains indirectly owned by a 10-year-old trust that manages his estate.

"The competitive fire Richard possessed never waned, nor did his ability to think and see things unconventionally. His life embodied a sense of 'carpe diem' and we will deeply miss his vibrancy and eclectic passion," states Howie Schwab, a PM and 20-year Driehaus CM veteran. "I was truly fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn directly from an investing legend during my formative years in the investment industry and for that I will be forever grateful."

"Richard's presence was, and his legacy remains, an ever present reminder to me and my colleagues that the performance of our clients' investment portfolios is paramount," states Jeffrey James, a PM and 24-year Driehaus CM veteran. "He was a true investment legend and pioneer. I was beyond fortunate to have him as a mentor and friend, and will always be guided by his philosophy and perspective."

Through the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and the Ricahrd H. Driehaus Charitable Lead Trusts, Driehaus gave away more than $5 million per year to a variety of causes and organizations, including his alma mater (DePaul), the Illinois Institute of Technology and Friends, the Historic Chicago Greystone Initiative, the St. Thomas Historical Trust, the St. Croix Foundation, the St. Croix Landmark Society, Boys and Girls Hope, the Boys and Girls Club, Old Town School of Folk Music, the Sherwood Conservatory of Music, Beverly Area Planning Association, St. Petersburg International Center for Preservation, and a host of others focused on preservation, architecture, education, the Catholic Church, and beautification. In 2003, he created his own art museum, the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, focused on pieces from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Gabriel Esteban, president of DePaul University, calls Driehaus an "inspirational member of the DePaul University community."

Beyond Driehaus' philanthrophy, he was also famous in the Chicago area for his massive summer garden parties at his Lake Geneva, Wisconsin mansion, the Tribune notes, recalling the A-list performers, the impressive attendee lists, and the stunts (like a zip-lining actor dressed as Austin Powers). The Sun-Times recalls Driehaus focusing on entertaining others, not on being the center of attention himself.

"Richard led a life of zest and intellectual curiosity. His path and personal story were larger than life, and the impact he made as an investor is perhaps only rivaled by the extensive legacy he left as a philanthropist," Weber states. "Richard will be dearly missed by all who were fortunate enough to know him."

Driehaus is survived by two sisters and a trio of daughters. 

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