The Rockefellers: one of the most influential and yet at the same time most discreet family dynasties in America. They implicate both great wealth but also philanthropy in the most generous way. Their trusts include the Rockefeller Center, the Museum of Modern Art, pieces of art of inestimable value, several universities and national parks. Scandals are foreign to them. They live a life in seclusion and avoid publicity. For me, however, Susan Cohn-Rockefeller (56), wife of David Rockefeller, Chairman of Rockefeller Financial Services, made an exception.
We meet for breakfast on the 33rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York. She is punctual to the minute and, except for her azure blue Red Krakoff purse, she is dressed all in black and white. She looks delicate, without make-up. She orders a Chai pudding and fresh fruit while I go for the chocolate brownie. “Have you always eaten this healthy”, I want to know. “I never really watched what I ate”, she says laughing, “but that changed over time, also because of my work as a documentary filmmaker. I work for big environment organizations all over the world. I want to shake up my audience, show them that we can’t keep treating the remaining resources the way we have. Logically, the same goes for our diet. I only buy food which is organic and in season. I avoid supermarkets. I’d rather go to a little veggie stand around the corner. If you really think about it, it’s absurd to buy strawberries or cherries from South Africa in the middle of winter.”
What is life like having Rockefeller for a last name? “Not very many people recognize us, since we rarely make public appearances. When we travel or check into a hotel we use a different name. That way we remain anonymous and it is safer as well. Just sometimes, when we need last-minute tickets to the sold-out opera, we might drop the name with the concierge”, she says with a smirk.