Mikhael Essayan, honorary president of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, died on Tuesday 23 October, in London, at the age of 85 years. The only grandchild of our founder, Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, he was a Trustee of the UK Branch of the Foundation between 1981 and 2005, and was succeeded in this role by his son, Martin Essayan.
A lawyer, Mikhael Essayan worked for the Iraq Petroleum Company, in London and in the Middle East, and sat on the General Council of the Bar of England and Wales. Appointed to the Queen’s Counsel, he was an Honorary Fellow of King’s College London and in Portugal was distinguished with the Order of Merit and the Order of the Infante Grand-Cross. He will be remembered for the great dedication, competence and integrity with which he served the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation for over three decades.
“Mikhael was a true gentleman with a keen mind and a commitment to service in the interests of others that he put above all else. Individuals like Mikhael Essayan are an important part of the tapestry that distinguish independent charitable foundations and enable them to contribute to a pluralistic society in the way that they do. Mikhael will be sorely missed, not least by his family, but we are fortunate that his son continues the family tradition and serves on the board of trustees today.” Andrew Barnett, Director, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK Branch
Mikhael Essayan talks to his son Martin Essayan about his grandfather, Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, London, 18 March 2011.