Emmanuel Lemelson

Last updated on 29 April 2017

Emmanuel Lemelson (born Gregory Manoli Lemelson; June 29, 1976) is an American-born Greek Orthodox priest, hedge fund manager, social commentator and former businessman.

Between 1999 and 2010, he ran an internet company named Amvona. He closed this in 2010 and changed its website into a social commentary site where the comments he made about the securitization of mortgage-backed securities were widely cited at the time.

In 2011, he was ordained a Greek Orthodox priest. He is in favour of reconciliation between the Greek Orthodox and Catholic churches. In 2012, he founded The Lantern Foundation to support religious, charitable, and educational causes with a special focus on those associated with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Lemelson has advocated a philosophy of investment based on Christian ethics, and in 2012, he founded Lemelson Capital Management, which runs The Amvona Fund, LP, a hedge fund.

Emmanuel Lemelson.jpg
Emmanuel Lemelson.jpg

Early life and education

Lemelson was born Gregory Manoli Lemelson in Phoenix, Arizona, the son of a Jewish father and Christian mother. He attended Seattle University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Religious Studies in 1999. He then attended Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he received a Master's of Divinity in 2003.

While a 17-year old undergraduate at Seattle University, Lemelson met Robert Spitzer, a Jesuit priest and philosopher. In interviews, Lemelson has indicated that the encounter was a significant event in his religious life.

Early career

Lemelson has written about his early business experiences, saying that his earliest recollection was selling candy on the bus ride home from school in the sixth grade. In 1994, while an undergraduate student at Seattle University, he launched a retail photography business, and in 1999 he founded the website Amvona from his dorm room at Hellenic College. The company, which sold photography accessories, grew quickly, generating around $40 million in revenue.

In 2005, based in part on proprietary software the company developed, the site began a transition to a hybrid platform of social networking and ecommerce content. By 2007, Lemelson developed technology to link media creation to relevant products using exif data and aggregating shared images of the site’s users as a prototype first known as "Amvona Trails" and later rebranded as the independent website Flekt.

Between 1999 and 2010, Amvona sold more than a million photo accessories to 300,000 customers, and was one of the top ten most visited online photo retail websites. The company also registered several patents, including proprietary software to connect its customers through user profiles, product reviews, exif data and online tracking software. Similar technology was later used by other websites to track user activities. In 2010, Amvona discontinued its e-commerce business. There was no official explanation, however journalist Filipe R. Costa speculated it was due to increased competition from Chinese companies offering cheap photography equipment online, and Lemelson's business philosophy of not taking on massive debt for the possibility of future growth.

Lemelson later added a news and securities analysis content outlet for the site focused on issues of faith, technology, economics and investing.

Religious activity

Holy Trinity Albanian Orthodox Church.jpg
Holy Trinity Albanian Orthodox Church, South Boston

Lemelson was ordained as a Greek Orthodox Deacon on July 23, 2011 and, the following day, as a priest by Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Bursa. He was granted the ecclesiastical name Emmanuel and was assigned to the Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America at the Holy Trinity Albanian Orthodox parish in South Boston. In June 2013, he was assigned to the Holy Metropolis of Switzerland, a jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

In November 2014, Lemelson was a member of the Orthodox Church's delegation for a two-day meeting between Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and Pope Francis in Istanbul. He has said that as a young man he fostered a vision that Catholics and Orthodox Christians would soon be reunited, and he has stated that more progress towards reconciliation has been made under these two leaders than had taken place in nearly a millennium, since the East–West Schism.

At a presidential candidate campaign rally for Donald Trump held in Keene, New Hampshire on September 30, 2015, Lemelson offered the invocation and spoke at the rally, condemning the abortion practices of Planned Parenthood. He also gave a personal blessing to Trump.

In October 2016 Lemelson called for the removal of the Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston following a clergy sex-abuse scandal. He said the incident was preventable and there were serious deficiencies in the protocols used for the oversight of clergy.

Activism

In 2010, Lemelson began to write about investment-related topics, including security analysis, Christian investment philosophy and ethics. His writings on mortgage-backed securities were cited widely in relation to the landmark cases U.S. Bank National Association v. Antonio Ibanez and Francis J. Bevilacqua v. Pablo Rodriguez, in which the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that financial institutions that did not hold both mortgages and the notes had no legal standing to pursue foreclosure proceedings against residents of these properties.

His writings and commentary have advocated long-term holdings in U.S. equities and have been critical of the securitization of residential mortgages, which some economists now argue was a significant contributing factor to the 2007-09 U.S. housing correction and the ensuing U.S. recession. His writing on these issues has been cited by Anonymous, Occupy Wall Street, the Massachusetts Registry of Deeds and by attorneys and litigants involved in mortgage securitization litigation.

In August 2014 Lemelson reached agreement with U.S. Bank after challenging the right of the bank's securitization trust to collect the principal and interest on a mortgage he took out in 2006. Under the settlement, Lemelson was awarded a total of $1.2 million in principal, interest and fees.

In a November 5, 2015 interview with Fox Business Network, Lemelson criticized the Federal Reserve for keeping interest rates artificially low and contributing to economic inequality.

Lemelson has appeared as a guest on the "Pre-Market Prep" radio show of Benzinga and on CBS News, Fox News and Fox Business Network.

Hedge fund manager

In September 2012, Lemelson founded Lemelson Capital Management, LLC, the sole sponsor and general partner of The Amvona Fund, L.P. that focuses on deep value and special situations. He is the chief investment officer of the fund.

His activities led the Amvona Fund to be ranked in three months during 2013–14 among the world's top performing hedge funds, and by mid 2015 the company reported a net return of 150 percent since its launch.

His investment research and analysis has been cited in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, Fox Business Network and The Street.

In October 2015 The Wall Street Journal published an article about Lemelson that included a claim that Lemelson boasted of his ability to 'crash' stocks, and quoted him as saying "My whole life I always knew things before they happened. I guess it's just a gift from God." Lemelson later published a response to the story, calling it a "directory of fallacies" and outlined 14 major factural errros and omissions in the article.

Personal life and philanthropy

Lemelson lives in Southborough, Massachusetts and is married to Theodora Anjeza Lemelson. As of 2015, he has four children.

In December 2012 Lemelson founded The Lantern Foundation, a non-profit foundation focused on supporting religious, charitable and educational causes with a special focus on those associated with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Since its inception, he has served as its president.

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