News & Politics

Mitchell Rales: What to Know About the Latest Commanders Bidder

The Glenstone billionaire has reportedly joined Josh Harris's offer.

Potomac billionaire Mitchell Rales has joined Josh Harris’s bid to buy the Washington Commanders, ESPN reports. Rales and his wife, Emily Wei Rales, are the couple behind the Glenstone museum, and now apparently he’s hoping to expand into sports. Here are five things to know about him:

He grew up in Bethesda.

Rales attended Walt Whitman High School, where he was captain of the football and baseball teams.

His brother is a billionaire too.

In 1984, Rales and his brother, Stephen, acquired a real estate investment trust and created the Danaher Corporation, named after a Montana creek they visited on a fishing trip. They quickly turned it into a Fortune 500 company. Stephen also owns the production company Indian Paintbrush, known for funding many of Wes Anderson’s films.

He had a near-death experience.

In 1988, Rales took a helicopter trip to Russia to go salmon fishing. When the group stopped to refuel, a plane blew up 10 feet away and burst into flames. The near-death experienced compelled Rales to shift his priorities away from solely making money.

He co-founded Glenstone with his wife, Emily Wei Rales.

Rales first bought the land Glenstone sits on in Potomac in 1986, and after building a house there, he decided to begin his art collection. In 2006, Rales founded the modern art museum with his then-girlfriend. Emily is now the director and chief curator of the museum that boasts over 59,000 square feet of indoor gallery space and 230 acres of outdoor space with many outdoor sculpture installations. In February 2023, the couple gave $1.9 billion to the museum, one of the largest gifts to an arts organization ever.

He gave the blue rooster to the National Gallery.

Mitchell and Emily Wei Rales donated Katharina Fritsch’s 14-foot-tall sculpture, “Hahn/Cock,” to the National Gallery in 2021, after it had been on display on the East Building’s roof terrace since 2016. Rales is also the president of the board of trustees of the National Gallery.

Katie Kenny
Editorial Fellow