In Summer/1953, James met Bolivian heiress Maria Isabel Patino, eighteen-year-old daughter of tin magnate Antenor Patino and the 3rd Duchess of Durcal of the Spanish royal family. In the face of stern opposition from Isabel’s father, they courted and fell in love.
When James proposed the marriage to Antenor Patino, Patino is alleged to have said, ‘We are not in the habit of marrying Jews’, to which Goldsmith is reported to have replied, ‘Well, we are not in the habit of marrying Red Indians’. With the heiress pregnant and the Patinos insisting the pair separate, the couple eloped in January 1954. The marriage was brief. Struck down by a cerebral haemorrhage in her seventh month of pregnancy, Maria Isabel Patino y Goldsmith died in May 1954; their child Isabel survived after being delivered by Caesarean section. Now with his child to provide for, Sir James began to explore the pharmaceutical business, and his career took off from there.