Nasser David Khalili was born in Isfahan, Iran, in 1945 and now lives in London. In its 2007 “Rich List,” the London Times ranked him fifth in the United Kingdom. His wealth is estimated to exceed $1 billion.
He has endowed the Nasser D. Khalili Chair of Islamic Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London, where he is a visiting professor. He also founded the Khalili Research Centre for the Art and Material Culture of the Middle East at Oxford University.
He is the founder and chairman of the Maimonides Foundation, an interfaith charitable organization that promotes peace and understanding among Jews, Christians and Muslims. He is a trustee of the City of Jerusalem and has received knighthood from two popes.
His Islamic art collection, the world’s largest in private hands, includes more than 20,000 items. He also has collections of enamels, Japanese art, Spanish Damascene metalwork and Swedish textile art. More than 35 catalogs of these collections have already been published. Exhibits of his collections have been shown at the British Museum, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Alhambra Palace in Granada, among others. He is a frequent lecturer on the art of Islam and the author of The Timeline History of Islamic Art and Architecture (Worth, 2005).