He hailed from Yingyin 穎陰 (modern Xuchang 許昌, Henan) and was a military leader who took part in the suppression of the rebellion of the Seven Princes. For his courageous leadership he was appointed Leader of the court gentlemen (zhonglangjiang 中郎將), but because of some crime, he was dismissed.
Later on he again won favour and was made counsellor (xiangguo 相國) to the Prince of Dai 代. During the reign of Emperor Wu 漢武帝 (r. 141-87 BCE) he was made governor (taishou 太守) of the important military region of Huaiyang 淮陽. He then rose to the post of Chamberlain for the imperial stud (taipu 太僕) but was again dismissed because he had a quarrel with Dou Fu 竇甫, a relative of Grand Empress Dowager Dou 竇太后, and was shifted to the post of counsellor to the Prince of Yan 燕 that he had also to give up because of some offense.
He retired to live a private life in the capital Chang'an (modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi). Guan Fu had become very rich and had attracted hundreds of retainers. He had an intimate friendship with Dou Ying 竇嬰, another relative of the Grand Empress Dowager. Counsellor-in-chief (chengxiang 丞相) Tian Fen 田蚡 later charged him of rebellion, and Guan Fu was executed.