What Would You Do With $154 Million? Inside Financier Evan Zimmermann's Amazing Journey Around the Globe

The successful Moderna investor swam with whales, prayed with Buddhist monks and volunteered at an orphanage during a trip across 13 countries in search of a more authentic life.
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Evan Zimmermann

Evan Zimmermann

Presented by DN News Desk

What would you do with a $154 million windfall? For Evan Zimmermann, owner of Antiquorum, a world-renowned auction house which he sold to a Swiss investment firm, the answer was simple: go on a seemingly never-ending journey around the world.

Antiquorum was established in Geneva, Switzerland in 1974, and after being sold to a Japanese conglomerate a few months before Japan’s biggest stock market crash, it was bought by Zimmermann in a distress buyout in 2008. 

He spent the next several years stripping away extraneous business lines that distracted from the company's core competencies and got rid of red ink. In April 2018, after an initial minority investment in the company’s European operation, FIDES Business Partner, an institutional investment firm based in Switzerland, wholly-acquired Antiquorum from Zimmermann for $154 million in an all-cash buyout.

In an official statement at the time of the sale, Giulio Delucia, chief executive officer of FIDES, stated, "Antiquorum offers very valuable assets including a strong historic brand. We greatly value Antiquorum’s entrepreneurial spirit and look forward to building upon its strengths by applying a focused growth strategy."

A few months following the sale of his company, Zimmermann also sold his five-story townhouse in New York City's West Village for $14.6 million, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. The next move for someone who just let go of the two main possessions tying him down? Embarking on an around-the-world adventure.

Zimmermann, who generally shrinks from the media eye, chronicled his journey on his Instagram account posting photos from his round the world trip. His travels spanned some 13 countries, including Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, China, India, South Africa and the Philippines. 

He hiked, bungee jumped, ziplined, swam with whales, played with orangutans, prayed with Buddhist monks and volunteered at an orphanage in Indonesia, to mention but a few envy-inducing experiences. Zimmerman's IG captions and friends’ comments suggest that his trip was not only one of sightseeing but also a spiritual journey to get back to a more authentic life.

After nearly a year traveling the world with no apparent plans for settling down, it was the unexpected COVID-19 world pandemic that grounded Zimmermann travels.

A close business associate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the irony of the COVID-19 pandemic grounding Zimmermann’s travels, is that in December 2018, Zimmermann invested a sizable stake in the IPO of a little-known biotech company called Moderna, which today is famed for its early COVID-19 vaccine.

While the overall stock market suffered a setback in 2020, shares of Moderna skyrocketed close to 250% higher by year end, as investors flocked to the biotech stock because the company's COVID-19 vaccine candidate was one of the first to garner FDC approval. Zimmermann maintained his stake in Moderna, apparently with impeccable buy-and-sell timing throughout the year.

Zimmermann has lately been sprinkling money around in private companies, many of which are startup ventures. He has around 30 private investments, including stakes in companies like Thousand Eyes, Obsidian Security and Anomali, which provide threat intelligence platforms to help organizations detect and mitigate cyber-attacks; fintech investments focused on payments and investment platforms, such as Robinhood, CircleUp and Stripe; Minerva Intelligence, an artificial intelligence company focused on knowledge engineering; and Spotlight Therapeutics, which is developing biologics that target specific cell populations in gene editing.

For a man who has become a ubiquitous public figure, Zimmermann remains a largely unknown quantity. He’s not so much mysterious, as he just doesn’t want to be public. Zimmermann has refused most requests for interviews, and he declined to comment for this article.

As author Eckart Tolle noted, “It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.” As to when  Zimmermann will get back to his globetrotting adventures, only time will tell. 

A close friend summed up Zimmermann's current perspective on life: “Through his travels, Evan has found that living up to an image that you have of yourself or that other people have of you is inauthentic living. To him success is nothing more than a successfully enjoying a present moment and that has now become the primary focus of his life.”

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