Not long after receiving her settlement from Christina Onassis, Jackie was seen with a new companion. His name was Maurice Tempelsman, and although friends initially insisted that Tempelsman was giving Jackie financial advice, it soon became apparent they were a couple. They had originally met when Jack was still a senator and Tempelsman was a Democratic supporter and a contributor to Kennedy's presidential campaign. His business acumen is also credited with helping Jackie turn her $26 million settlement into a fortune worth more than $100 million.
Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Maurice Tempelsman, 1990
Photo Credit: Brian Quigley/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
In the months following Aristotle Onassis's death, Tempelsman became Jackie's constant companion. To the general public, they seemed an odd couple — she was sleek and sophisticated, the epitome of New York high society. He was pudgy and unassuming. But Tempelsman was a successful, cultured man who collected art, was fluent in French, and exuded personal warmth. His social politics were similar to Jackie's — he supported African democratization and helped underwrite Nelson Mandela's first trip to the United States. However, his profession also added a hint of intrigue — and in some cases, suspicion.
Tempelsman was born in Antwerp, Belgium. His family were Orthodox Jews and fled Europe in 1940, just before the Nazis invaded Belgium. They moved to a refugee neighborhood in New York City, where Tempelsman's father founded a diamond brokerage. Tempelsman married Lily Bucholz, a teenage Polish Jewish refugee, in the late 1940s. They had three children together.
In 1990 the Washington Post reported that former California Democratic assemblyman Mervyn Dymally changed his position on diamond imports after a 1988 meeting with Tempelsman — and after Tempelsman contributed $34,200 to a Dymally-supported scholarship fund for minority students. The politician denied soliciting the contribution or being influenced by it. Tempelsman also maintained the contribution was coincidental to Dymally's change of position.
Into the early 1980s, Tempelsman continued to describe himself as simply a family friend of Jackie's. But their demeanor was that of a couple. Gossip columns and newspapers were uncharacteristically muted about Jackie and Maurice. Jackie's children also accepted Tempelsman and shared a mutual affection with him.
In 1984, Tempelsman and his wife obtained the equivalent of an annulment for Orthodox Jews in 1984 but never legally or civilly divorced. In 1988, Tempelsman moved into Jackie's 1040 Fifth Avenue apartment.
THEY SAID …
“You know from what he says, as well as what he doesn't say, that there's a lively and fertile mind operating there. This is a world citizen we're talking about, at home in almost any culture he finds himself in.”
— Chester Crocker, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs