Michael Karfunkel Cause of Death: The Mysterious End of the Orthodox Billionaire

Michael Karfunkel, a wealthy and influential Orthodox Jewish businessman who founded National General Holdings Corp, died on April 27, 2016, at the age of 72. His death was sudden and unexpected, and the exact cause of his death was never publicly revealed. His death also raised questions about his life, his legacy, and his philanthropy. Here is a brief overview of his biography and the circumstances of his demise.

A Low-Profile Tycoon

Karfunkel was born in Hungary in 1943, and immigrated to the United States with his family in 1956. He grew up in Brooklyn, where he attended Yeshiva Chasan Sofer, a religious school. He later studied accounting at Brooklyn College, and worked as a tax consultant and an auditor.

He started his career in the insurance industry in the 1970s, when he joined American International Group (AIG), a global insurance giant. He rose through the ranks and became a senior executive, overseeing the company’s international operations.

In 1986, he left AIG and founded AmTrust Financial Services with his brother George Karfunkel, who was also a former AIG executive. AmTrust specialized in providing property and casualty insurance to small and medium-sized businesses. The company grew rapidly and went public in 2006.

In 2009, Karfunkel founded National General Holdings Corp, another insurance holding company that focused on personal and commercial auto insurance. He served as the chairman and CEO of the company until his death. He also had interests in other businesses, such as banking, real estate, and technology.

Karfunkel was one of the richest and most powerful Orthodox Jews in America, with a net worth of $3.2 billion, according to Forbes. He was also one of the most secretive and private. He rarely gave interviews or appeared in the media. He lived in a modest home in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Boro Park, Brooklyn, and was known for his devout observance of Jewish law and tradition.

A Generous Philanthropist

Karfunkel was also a prolific and generous philanthropist, who supported numerous Jewish causes and institutions. He and his brother established two private foundations, the Karfunkel Family Foundation and the Michael and Esther Karfunkel Family Foundation, which together made over $100 million in grants in 2014, according to tax filings.

The foundations donated to various Orthodox schools, synagogues, charities, and organizations, both in the United States and in Israel. Some of the recipients included Yeshiva Chasan Sofer, Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, Agudath Israel of America, and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.

Karfunkel also gave to non-Jewish causes, such as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the New York Public Library. He was honored by several organizations for his philanthropy, such as the United Jewish Appeal, the Jewish National Fund, and the American Friends of Magen David Adom.

A Mysterious Death

Karfunkel died on April 27, 2016, just a few days after he attended the annual shareholders meeting of National General Holdings Corp. His death was announced by his company in a brief statement, which did not mention the cause of his death or the location of his funeral.

His death was largely ignored by the mainstream media, except for some business wires. However, his death was big news in the Orthodox Jewish community, where he was mourned and praised for his contributions and achievements. His funeral was held in Israel, where he was buried.

The exact cause of his death remains unknown to the public, as his family and company have not disclosed any details. Some sources speculated that he died of a heart attack, while others suggested that he had a terminal illness. His death also raised questions about his estate and his succession plan, as he left behind a complex and diversified business empire.


Michael Karfunkel was a remarkable and enigmatic figure, who built a fortune and a legacy in the insurance industry. He was a successful and influential businessman, who also had a deep and sincere commitment to his faith and his community. He was a generous and humble philanthropist, who gave to many causes and institutions. He died suddenly and mysteriously, leaving behind a gap in the hearts of his family and friends. His cause of death was never revealed, but his life was extraordinary and inspiring. He will be missed and remembered as one of the most prominent and respected Orthodox Jewish leaders of his time.