Steven Rales
Rales in 2016
Born (1951-03-31) March 31, 1951 (age 73)
TitleFounder, Danaher and Indian Paintbrush
  • Christine Plank
    (m. 1983; div. 2003)
  • Lalage Damerell
    (m. 2012)
FamilyMitchell Rales (brother)

Steven M. Rales (born March 31, 1951) is an American businessman and film producer. He founded Danaher Corporation in 1984 with his brother Mitchell Rales and is chairman of the board. Rales also founded the film production company Indian Paintbrush in 2006, which works closely with filmmaker Wes Anderson. His work with Anderson has earned him three Academy Award nominations, winning Best Live Action Short Film for The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (2023). Rales also owns the media distribution companies Janus Films and The Criterion Collection and holds a 20% stake in the Indiana Pacers, a National Basketball Association (NBA) team.

Early life and education

Raised in a Jewish family,[1] Rales is one of four sons of Ruth (née Abramson) and Norman Rales.[2] His father was raised in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum of New York and later became a businessman in Washington, D.C. credited for enacting the first employee stock ownership plan transaction in U.S. history.[3] His father was also a philanthropist, founding the Norman and Ruth Rales Foundation and the Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service.[4][5]

In 1969, Rales graduated from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland.[6] In 1973, he graduated from DePauw University, where he was in the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. In 1978, he received a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from American University.


In 1979, he left his father's real estate firm to found Equity Group Holdings with his brother Mitchell Rales. Using junk bonds, they bought a diversified line of businesses. They changed the name to Diversified Mortgage Investors in 1978 and then, coinciding with its redomicile to Delaware, Danaher in 1984.[7] He has served as Danaher's Chairman of the Board since January 1984.[8] In 1985, they bought Easco Corporation, the then-largest independent aluminum extrusion manufacturer and hand tool manufacturer which produced the Craftsman brand of sockets and wrenches for Sears.

In 1988, they made a hostile takeover bid for Interco, a conglomerate comprising manufacturers as diverse as Converse shoes and Ethan Allen furniture.[9][10] When the company responded with a poison pill, they sued, and prevailed in court.[11] They later ended the bid after five months with a profit of $60 million.[12]

In 1992, the AM side of WGMS was sold off to the Rales brothers who converted the music station into the first frequency for WTEM, the first full-time sports talk radio station in the Washington metropolitan area. He and his brother founded Colfax Corporation in 1995, an industrial pumps manufacturer based in Richmond, Virginia. In 2008, Rales engineered the initial public offering of the company.[13] His net worth was estimated by Forbes in July 2023 to be $7.3 billion.[14] Rales also owns a 20% stake in the Indiana Pacers, a National Basketball Association (NBA) team.[15]

Indian Paintbrush

Rales founded the film production company Indian Paintbrush in 2006. The company works frequently with filmmaker Wes Anderson, producing films such as Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Isle of Dogs.[16][17] Rales has earned three Academy Award nominations for his work with Anderson, winning Best Live Action Short Film for The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (2023) at the 96th Academy Awards.[18] In May 2024, he acquired media distribution companies Janus Films and The Criterion Collection.[19]

List of films produced by Rales
Year Title Directed by
2012 Moonrise Kingdom Wes Anderson
2014 The Grand Budapest Hotel Wes Anderson
2015 Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
2018 Isle of Dogs Wes Anderson
2021 The French Dispatch Wes Anderson
2023 Asteroid City Wes Anderson
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar Wes Anderson
North Star Kristin Scott Thomas
2024 My Old Ass Megan Park
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Three More Wes Anderson
TBA The Phoenician Scheme Wes Anderson

Personal life

Rales and his wife Lalage in 2016

Rales was married to Christine Plank from 1983 to 2003.[20][21] They have three children: Alexander, Gregory, and Stephanie.[22][23][24] He married Lalage Damerell in 2012, the mother of writer and former CIA officer Amaryllis Fox Kennedy.

Rales was a major donor in the 2002 dedication of the Peeler Art Center at DePauw.[25]


  1. ^ Washington Jewish Week: "Five local Jews make Forbes richest list" Archived September 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine October 7, 2009
  2. ^ "Obituary On Sunday, March 28, 2004, Ruth Rales, of Hillsboro Beach, FL and Potomac, MD". The Washington Post. March 30, 2004.
  3. ^ "Remembering Norman R. Rales 1923-2012". Jewish Family Service. March 15, 2012. Archived from the original on September 29, 2013. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
  4. ^ Sun Sentinel: "Norman Rales, orphan to wealthy businessman and philanthropist, is dead at 88" By Lisa J. Huriash March 15, 2012
  5. ^ Jewish Family Service: "Ruth Rales, 81, Philanthropist by Tal Abbady April 1, 2004
  6. ^ Murphy, Carolyn and Lynn Stander (September 2005). "We Knew Them When". Bethesda Magazine. Archived from the original on August 20, 2008.
  7. ^ "Steven Rales". Forbes. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  8. ^ "Steven M. Rales". Forbes. Archived from the original on June 9, 2009.
  9. ^ David A. Vise; Steve Coll (August 23, 1988). "The Rales Brothers Play for Big Stakes; Little-Known Area Family Builds an Industrial Empire". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 23, 2012.((cite news)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Request on Interco". The New York Times. August 4, 1988.
  11. ^ Patrick A. Gaughan (2002). Mergers, Acquisitions, and Corporate Restructurings. John Wiley and Sons. p. 217. ISBN 978-0-471-23729-7.
  12. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Rales Brothers Sell Their Interco Stake". The New York Times. December 16, 1988.
  13. ^ Thomas Heath (July 7, 2008). "The Quiet Dynamism of the Brothers Rales". The Washington Post.
  14. ^ "Steven Rales". Forbes. Retrieved July 7, 2023.
  15. ^ Badenhausen, Kurt; Novy-Williams, Eben (November 30, 2023). "Billionaire Steven Rales to Buy 15% of NBA's Pacers at $3.47B Valuation". Sportico. Retrieved April 4, 2024. Rales, whose brother Mitchell is an investor in the Washington Commanders, now owns 20% of the NBA team, according to the people, who were granted anonymity because the details are private.
  16. ^ Eisler, Kim (December 11, 2007). "What's a DC Billionaire Doing Aboard The Darjeeling Limited?". Retrieved April 2, 2023.
  17. ^ "Wes Anderson, Focus Features, And Indian Paintbrush Reunite On Asteroid City". Focus Features. Retrieved April 2, 2023.
  18. ^ Hoffman, Jordan (March 11, 2024). "Wes Anderson thanks team and his chance meeting with Owen Wilson in Oscars acceptance remarks from Germany". GoldDerby. Retrieved March 13, 2024.
  19. ^ "Indian Paintbrush founder Steven Rales buys Criterion, Janus Films". May 20, 2024. Retrieved May 20, 2024.
  20. ^ Washingtonian Magazine: "Best Places To Live" by Kimberly Palmer And Mollie Reilly May 2012
  21. ^ DePauw University: Peeler Art Center Dedicated as Donor Remembers the Building's Namesake, Her Former Professor October 11, 2002
  22. ^ Find A Case: CHRISTINE P. RALES, APPELLANT v. STEVEN M. RALES, APPELLEE September 28, 2006
  23. ^ The Ron Brown Scholar Program:Remembering Norman R. Rales - 2010 American Journey Award Recipient"[permanent dead link] March 13, 2012
  24. ^ Hartford Courant: In the Matter of Marilyn Plank July 11, 2007
  25. ^ Peeler Art Center Dedicated as Donor Remembers the Building's Namesake, Her Former Professor, DePauw University Archived January 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine