George Arents's grandfather, was the nephew of Major Lewis Ginter, one of the founders of the Allen & Ginter Tobacco Company. George Arent's father died in 1918 he left an estate of $10 million with one-third going to his son.
His uncle who initially worked with the family firm, eventually patented cigarette and cigar rolling machines. His machines went on to account for two thirds of the cigars smoked in the USA. George's uncle, who was actually a non-smoker, was also a keen racing driver.
George Arents studied at Columbia University and later received a MA from Syracuse University at the age of 57. He acquired his wealth from his father's and great-uncle's connections with the American Tobacco Company and by co-owning the parent patent on a cigar-making machine with Rufus Patterson in 1900.
During the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup race, he was involved in an accident that clained the life of his riding mechanic Carl Mensel. The Mercedes 60 he was driving, was approaching Elmont on the Hempstead-Jamaica Road, when Arents’ left rear tire blew. The bare rim struck a trolley track, overturning the car. Arents was thrown from the car, suffering a serious head injury from which he eventually fully recovered. Tragically, Mensel was pinned under the car and fatally injured.
George Arents died in December 1960 at the age of 85 leaving an estate of well over $3 million including gifts of $2 million to Syracuse University and $1 million to the New York Public Library as well as his extensive library of published material on tobacco. A bulk of his estate went to his son George Arents, Jr.