Bernard Osher, Founder and Treasurer

Bernard Osher, Founder and TreasurerBernard Osher, a patron of education and the arts, started The Bernard Osher Foundation in 1977 which seeks to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts.

A native of Biddeford, Maine and a graduate of Bowdoin College, Osher has pursued a successful career in business, beginning with the management of his family’s hardware and plumbing supplies store in Maine and continuing with work at Oppenheimer & Company in New York before moving to California. There he became a founding director of World Savings, the second largest savings institution in the United States, which was sold to Wachovia Corporation in 2006.

A collector of American paintings of the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries, Osher purchased the fine art auction house of Butterfield & Butterfield in 1970 and oversaw its growth to become the fourth largest auction house in the world. In 1999, he sold the company to eBay.

Bernard Osher has been affiliated with a number of philanthropic and non-profit boards and currently serves as president of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Foundation and vice-chair of the American Himalayan Foundation. He is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Class of 2009).  He also is a serious student of opera and an ardent fly fisherman.

He and his wife Barbro Osher, Consul General for Sweden in California, conduct their philanthropy through The Bernard Osher Foundation, The Bernard Osher Jewish Philanthropies Fund, and The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, which supports cultural and educational projects that link communities in North America and Scandinavia, with an emphasis on Sweden.