The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs will host a Director's Lunch with Thomas Kaplan, Chairman and Chief Investment Officer of the Electrum Group LLC, in the Belfer Center Library (L369).

An entrepreneur by vocation, Thomas Kaplan took his undergraduate and D. Phil degrees in history from Oxford. While completing his doctorate on the Malayan Emergency, Kaplan became perhaps the first observer to predict that Saddam Hussein would attempt to annex Kuwait. From this assessment to more recent forecasts regarding Iran and the Arab Spring, Kaplan has an unusual capacity to predict qualitative strategic shifts that can be used to inform public policy as well as to gain a relative advantage in the private sector. He credits his education, and an ability to get in front of events by applying historical analysis to forecast market cycles and trends, as the major source for his becoming one of the most well-known American investors in natural resources.

Kaplan began his career as an advisor to hedge funds. In 1993, concluding silver was at a cyclical low, he left the financial sector and founded Apex Silver Mines to capitalize on the improving supply/demand fundamentals of the metal.  While running Apex, Kaplan's team discovered and financed the San Cristobal deposit in Bolivia, now one of the largest producers of silver and zinc in the world. In 2003, drawing on historical analysis to reach a similar conclusion with respect to oil, which he predicted would exceed $100 a barrel, Kaplan co-founded Leor Exploration & Production LLC. Leor became the fastest-growing privately held hydrocarbon exploration and production company in the United States. In 2007, believing that things were "too good" and that the financial system was far more fragile than commonly perceived, Kaplan exited his economically sensitive businesses, including Leor, to focus on his gold interests.

As a leading investor in gold, having created Electrum when gold was trading around $400 per ounce, Kaplan is credited with correctly predicting very early in the cycle that gold prices would increase dramatically. His investment strategy and commitment to gold led Bloomberg BusinessWeek to refer to him as “Gold’s Evangelist.” In a January 2011 op-ed in the Financial Times’ Market Insights column, Kaplan discussed the Prudent Man construct as a tool to evaluate the benefits and risks of investing in gold. In that piece, he explained that a variety of factors – including the supply of and demand for gold, the devastation of the financial industry and government balance sheets and the fact that gold is not tied to another person’s ability to pay – are causing asset managers and general banks to begin readmitting “gold back into the select group of prudent asset classes.” According to Kaplan, these developments suggest “interesting times ahead” for those who own the precious metal.

Kaplan and his family support a number of philanthropic causes in the United States and the developing world. He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the 92nd Street Y, a world-renowned Jewish community and cultural center. Kaplan is also the co-founder and Executive Chairman of Panthera Corporation, a charity devoted to preserving big cats and their ecosystems around the globe. Further to their commitment to ensuring the survival of the big cats, Kaplan and his wife, Daphne Recanati Kaplan, endowed the Recanati-Kaplan Center at Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, the WildCRU, creating the leading university-based field conservation program.


As space is limited for this event, RSVPs will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. Belfer Center Lunches are strictly off-the-record. By requesting to attend the lunch, you agree that you will comply with the Belfer Center's strict policy against recording or disclosing the contents of the lunch. Your access is conditioned on your compliance with these restrictions. Should you violate these rules, the Center will pursue all available legal options and you will be excluded from all future events.