Bachelor of Arts, Trinity College, 1948; Master of Business Administration, Harvard University, 1950; Doctor of Humane Letters (honorary), Yeshiva U., 1988.
He has two siblings, Milton and Alice. He is a nephew of American pulp-paper merchant, financier and philanthropist Samuel Gottesman. He founded the investment advisory firm First Manhattan in 1964.
He was an early investor in Berkshire Hathaway and today owns 16,100 shares, worth $3.5 billion in 2015.
He joined the Berkshire Hathaway board of directors in 2003. In 2008, Gottesman donated $25 million to the Yeshiva University Medical School.
This gift was used to form the Ruth L. and David South. Gottesman Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, which operates as a stem cell research center.
Trustee American Museum Natural History. Vice chairman Mount Sinai Hospital. Chairman of the Board Yeshiva U., New York City.
Member New York Society Security Analysts, Economics Club, Harmonie Club, Lyford-Cay Club, Century Country Club.
Married Ruth Levy, August 17, 1950. Children: Robert, Alice, William.