The Curious Life of Božo Dimnik

September 2021 Living

Jan Tomše, Executive Editor

Cover photo: Delo (Jure Eržen)

A Slovenian businessman has published a book about his life.

Some say he is one of the major profiteers of healthcare. He says that’s not true. He recommends everyone to read his book titled In the sign of the fish, where he explains it all. 

I am not a lobbyist, says Božo Dimnik (89), a doctor, a long-time businessman and a cosmopolitan. They got everything mixed up, he points out. I am predominantly a marketer, he elaborates. »I did this all my life. The only time I lobbied was for an independent Slovenia.« 

»I caught my first fish in Ljubljana, in Gruberjev canal. It weighed a little over two pounds. With the fish in my hands I ran to our house to bring her there alive, put her in the pool, and went to see her again and again. Since then, I’ve been at the water every day.«

»Focus on an area, develop the skills, then invite your business partners...«

And before the independence of the country in 1991, he witnessed and experienced a lot. Before the second world war, he grew up in Belgrade, together with the children of the Karađorđević royal family. »The king’s descendants tell me my personal archives consist of more of their ancestors’ photographs than theirs,« Dimnik says, not trying to hide his pride. 

»In the 1960s, there was a chronic shortage of foreign currencies in Yugoslavia, and we could read in the newspapers that the government was buying cars for its offices. I had some foreign currencies and I thought I could take advantage of it and earn some, hence I started importing cars. I exchanged or bought these foreign currencies from foreigners, mostly rich people. With the exchange I earned 15, 20%, sometimes even more, even up to 50%. I handed out dinars to foreigners at the official exchange rate, and of course I exchanged foreign currency in the black market, which allowed me to cash in on this.«

He played cards with top communist leaders, Tito, Stane Dolanc, and Edvard Kardelj. Anecdotes about significant history events come out of his mouth easily. He hung out with the world’s most famous celebrities –the British count Angus Douglas, and Brigite Bardot are some of them. He always loved the company of women. His book is full of stories about women he has met and been surrounded with within his business. 

A person has to focus on an area where he is really good at, advises Dimnik. »You can capitalise on that when you invite business partners to your very own field.« His is fishing. Everything important that has happened to him is related to fish. Hence the title of the book, In the sign of the fish. The book was edited by Slovenian writer and journalist Tadej Golob, the author of the most read and best-selling crime novels in Slovenia. 



Božo Dimnik will present the book in the Gallus hall in Cankarjev dom on Monday, September 27, at 5 p.m. 

»[Stipe] Mesić, who knew about my visit to [Hans Dietrich] Genscher, asked me to arrange a meeting for him so that he could also explain Croatia’s position in Yugoslavia to the German politician. I called Count Douglas again to pull his strings and help me on this matter. And on November 14, 1991 the meeting took place in complete secrecy. However, it is difficult to take the president abroad without anyone knowing about it, Janez Drnovšek helped us with that. Mesic had introduced me to Drnovšek before.«