Almost no one knows the name Max Emden today - but his department stores are already familiar: the KaDeWe in Berlin, the Operpollinger in Munich, the Allas department store in Stockholm or Corvin Ahuraz in Budapest.
Born in Hamburg in 1874, the son of a respected Jewish merchant family, he was more than a department store king. He was a patron of the University of Hamburg, donated the first golf club and a polo club to his hometown - and built up an unique art collection. In 1928 Emden moved to Switzerland because of the burgeoning anti-Semitism, he acquired the picturesque Brissago Islands in Lake Maggiore and equipped a villa with his breathtaking art collection of painters such as Van Gogh, Canaletto or Monet. Emden mastered the art of living like no other - always tanned on his motor yachts and with lightly clothed young women at his side, who caused scandals in the prudish Ticino. But the Nazis gradually confiscated Emden's assets; he had to sell most of his art - his numerous properties throughout Europe were expropriated - and so he died impoverished on Lago Maggiore in 1940.