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C. V. Starr & Co. Annual Lecture on China

This lecture was established in 2018 to honor the trailblazing career of C. V. Starr as well as the current chairman and chief executive officer of C. V. Starr & Co., Maurice R. Greenberg.

Cornelius Vander Starr (1892–1968)

Cornelius Vander Starr
Cornelius Vander Starr (Starr Foundation)

Cornelius Vander (C. V.) Starr had a diverse and wide-ranging career as a lawyer, international businessman, journalist, publisher, and philanthropist perhaps most known for founding C. V. Starr & Co. and the predecessor companies to multinational finance and insurance giant American International Group (AIG). After brief periods at the University of California, Berkeley, in the U.S. Army, and in Yokohama, Japan, Starr settled in Shanghai, China, in 1919. There he founded American Asiatic Underwriters, one of the first American businesses to be based in China, and helped establish Asia Life Insurance Company, one of the first foreign life insurance companies to operate in China.

Throughout his career, C. V. Starr started and grew many companies spanning several industries, from insurance and real estate to automobiles and media. In 1950, he founded C. V. Starr & Co., which served as the parent company to the various Starr insurance companies. Over the years, C. V. Starr & Co. eventually grew to become AIG, which consisted of more than one hundred companies with offices in 130 countries and more than $1 billion in insurance at the time of Starr’s death. In 1968, just prior to C. V. Starr’s death, he selected Hank Greenberg to serve as his successor to lead AIG and other Starr companies.

Maurice R. Greenberg

Maurice R. Greenberg has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations since 1977 and currently serves as honorary vice chairman. He is chairman and chief executive officer of Starr Companies, including C. V. Starr & Co. Inc. Greenberg retired as chairman and CEO of American International Group (AIG), a former Starr subsidiary, in March 2005. Under Greenberg’s leadership, AIG became the largest insurance and financial services company in the world. Greenberg is also the chairman of the Starr Foundation, a philanthropic organization initially funded by Cornelius Vander Starr’s estate. Under his leadership, the Starr Foundation has grown to become one of the largest private foundations in the United States and has made more than $3.5 billion in grants worldwide.

Maurice R. Greenberg (CFR)

In 1990, Greenberg was appointed to be the first chairman of the International Business Leaders’ Advisory Council for the Mayor of Shanghai, and in 1994 was appointed senior economic advisor to the Beijing municipal government. He was awarded the title Honorary Citizen of Shanghai in 1997. Among his numerous appointments, Greenberg serves on the advisory board of the Tsinghua School of Economics and Management, the International Advisory Council of the China Development Research Foundation, and the China Development Bank. He also serves on the President’s Council on International Activities of Yale University and is vice chairman of the National Committee on United States-China Relations. He is a past chairman and director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Greenberg received his pre-law certificate from the University of Miami and his LLB from New York Law School in 1950 and has been granted honorary degrees from a number of universities. A celebrated and decorated U.S. veteran, Greenberg served in both World War II and the Korean conflict, rising to the rank of captain.

The Starr Foundation

The Starr Foundation was established in 1955 by Cornelius V. Starr, and has over the years grown into one of the largest private foundations in the country. The foundation supports education and student aid, medicine and health care, human needs, public policy, culture, and the environment.

C. V. Starr & Co. Annual Lectures on China