Renaissance revisited: Family office to gather philanthropic families to reinvigorate the arts
Cris Zimmermann has always been fascinated by the Renaissance.
As a young man growing up in Frankfurt, Germany, he was drawn to studying both law and theology. As he came of age, he became an entrepreneur, the owner and founder of various property management companies that specialized in residential housing. That eventually allowed him to create his own family office, setting up over 20 companies in five countries.
Even with his various business dealings keeping him busy, Zimmermann remained curious about the Medici family and the Renaissance, art patronage and the intersection of where family philanthropy meets the arts.
“As I delved deeper into the history and read about 70 books and manuscripts on the Medici family, I discovered that no one has taken a look at them through a business and entrepreneurial lens," Zimmermann said. "How did they develop from a merchant family to the richest family in Europe in the 15th century? How did they build their influence to shape a new area called 'Renaissance'? Why did they invest into the art and architecture that we still marvel at today?”
The COVID lockdown in Europe afforded him the time to take his studies further, allowing him to begin a master of arts degree in art history with a focus on the Renaissance and become fluent in Italian.
“The more I studied, the more I became fascinated," he said. "And I decided: I want to become a Renaissance man.”
Eventually, Zimmermann's passion for the Renaissance began to take shape, and the concept for “The Medici Gathering” was born. The Medici family serves as Zimmermann’s inspiration, as they became Europe’s wealthiest family, driving the arts and architectural development that we still see today.
Zimmermann has planned the event for Nov. 8-11, gathering international, influential families who are curious about the arts and philanthropy. The event — which will take place at Villa Cora, a 5-star resort in Florence, Italy — promises a mix of thoughtful discussions, learning sessions and interactive experiences including food, wine and art spread throughout the city.
Said Zimmermann: “I want to discuss how families can set themselves up for success, significance and legacy.”