Jonathan grew up in North Yorkshire, read English at Cambridge, trained as a barrister, and then moved into the investment world, setting up Ruffer LLP in 1994.
In 2012, he purchased Jacob and his twelve sons, a series of paintings by Spanish master Francisco de Zurbarán, as well as 900 year-old Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland, where they had been housed for more than 250 years. Determined to keep the paintings for the people of the North East and to allow them access to the Castle, which had previously served as a private palace for the Prince Bishops of Durham, Jonathan established The Auckland Castle Trust.
The charity is now working to transform Auckland Castle into an arts, faith and heritage destination of international significance. This includes a £17m restoration of the Castle itself, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as a reimagining of its 17th Century Walled Garden and the creation of various new venues, including a Spanish Gallery, Mining Art Gallery and Faith Museum. This represents a total investment of £70m. An additional £30m is being invested by Auckland Castle Trust’s sister charity, Eleven Arches, which is responsible for open air spectacular, Kynren – An Epic Tale of England.
Together, it is hoped that these charities will help to boost visitor numbers, create opportunities for employment and skills development and serve as a catalyst for the revitalisation of Bishop Auckland.