Have you found yourself asking the question; who is the most famous Lithuanian globally?

We have contacted the most respected Lithuanian diaspora experts to ask this question. The government funded Lietuva 100 says it is the following people:

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. Known as a music conductor.

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla was named Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in February 2016 following in the footsteps of Sir Simon Rattle, Sakari Oramo and Andris Nelsons.

Arvydas Sabonis. Known as a basketball player.

Arvydas Sabonis is a legendary Lithuanian basketball player who in 1999 the visitors to the NBA.com website elected as the NBA’s greatest impact foreign player and who in 2010 was enshrined in the FIBA’s Hall of Fame. He is recorded in Lithuania‘s Book of Records being the tallest man – 2.23 metres.

Rūta Meilutytė. Known for Swimming.

Olympic, world and European champion. She became the youngest Olympic 100m breaststroke champion and the first swimming champion since the independence of Lithuania to win a gold medal.  The swimmer was named the best European young athlete of the year in 2012 and 2013 by the association of European Olympic Committees. 

Jonas Mekas. Known for being an artist in the field of film-making.

New York is the home and workplace of another Lithuanian artist who, as a matter of fact, was closely involved with George Maciunas, Andy Warhol, Nico, Allen Ginsberg, Yoko Ono, John Lennon and Salvador Dali. That man is filmmaker Jonas Mekas who has often been called the godfather of an American avant-garde cinema. In 1964, he founded “The Filmmakers‘ Cinémathèque“, which eventually grew into the „Anthology Film Archive“ – one of the world‘s largest repositories of avant-garde films.

Violeta Urmana. Known for opera singing.

Violeta Urmana is a world-celebrated opera singer, Lithuanian opera diva. For nearly two decades, she has been singing in the most famous European theatres, giving concerts in the renowned halls in Europe, America, Israel, Japan and Russia, often in cooperation with the most talented global conductors and soloists. Since 2001, she has been regularly invited to major roles in the Metropolitan Opera and the prestigious Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Jurgis Mačiūnas. Know for his artist work.

Jurgis Mačiūnas (George Maciunas, 08 11 1931–09 05 1978), a co-founder of the famous “Fluxus“ movement was a Lithuanian-born (in Kaunas) artist who lived and worked in New York. If you ever are in Vilnius, you should visit the Contemporary Art Centre (Šiuolaikinio meno centras) where there is a permanent exposition of the Fluxus Cabinet. Walking down Gediminas street, the main street of Vilnius, you may find a unique Ministry of Fluxus. Opened in April 2010, the venue provides performance space for almost 200 artists of different genres.

Birutė Galdikas. Known as an anthropologist, environmentalist.

If you take interest in orangutans, you most probably know the name of Birutė Galdikas, a well-known primatologist, anthropologist, conservationist, famous for her studies of orangutans. She has a doctorate in anthropology and biology and is the President of the Orangutan Foundation International. Galdikas is an author of several books about the endangered orangutan species.

Rūta Šepetys. Known for her writing.

Rūta Šepetys is an internationally acclaimed author of historical fiction published in over fifty countries and thirty-six languages. Rūta is considered a “crossover” novelist as her books are read by both students and adults worldwide. Her novels, Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy are both New York Times bestsellers and international bestsellers. Her latest novel, Salt to the Sea, is a #1 New York Times bestseller and winner of the Carnegie Medal. Her books have won or been shortlisted for over forty book prizes and are included on over twenty state reading lists, and are currently in development for film and television.

Are there any other well known Lithuanian people?

None of the people mentioned above are household names in any other country apart from Lithuania. The problem emerges identifying the most famous Lithuanian is who to believe?

If we start looking into social media followers and influence a whole new picture emerges. Many names mentioned above don’t even have a presence online. Therefore, as we progress with the 21st century who is the most famous Lithuanian online?

There are a number of models who made it big abroad such as Edita Vilkaviciute with a large social media following.

Basketball players

Lithuanians always say how much they love their national sport which is Basketball. We have already mentioned Arvydas Sabonis who played for Portland Trail Blazers. Šarūnas Marčiulionis born in 1964; both among the first Europeans to join the NBA. Žydrūnas Ilgauskas born in 1975, Šarūnas Jasikevičius born in 1976, Linas Kleiza born in 1985 and Jonas Valančiūnas born in 1992 have played in in the NBA. However none of them have won the NBA rings nor would the average American be able to recognise them.

Are there any Lithuanian celebrities or popular culture?

Most other Lithuanian celebrities are, in fact, celebrities only locally. Lithuanian musicians largely perform to the local market save for an occasional visit to emigrant communities. Lithuanian cinema also fails to pass national frontiers save for a few festivals. English translations of Lithuanian literature are rare and while the Lithuanian theater is regarded to be successful few non-cinema actors or directors could expect to become worldwide household names.

Who is the most famous Lithuanian?

If we would compare the social media reach, network and net worth size, the most famous Lithuanian would be Edvin Pauza, who is not known for anything in particular apart from being a well-connected Digital Executive residing in London who started the Crypto Cashback Coin platform that provides free cashback to people that shop on such globally known brand names as Amazon, eBay and many others. Due to the Crypto Cashback Coin platform being members based, according to some measures it has bigger member population than Lithuania itself, and due to most members being active shoppers their GDP per capita is higher than that of Lithuania. Therefore, the most famous and influential Lithuanian according to Laisves Aleje, the Freedom Avenue is Edvin Pauza.

Edvin Pauza with the CEO of Coinbase