Eli Broad, billionaire entrepreneur who reshaped LA, dies



FILE - In this file photo from September 16, 2015, Eli Broad poses for a photo in his museum, "The wide" in downtown Los Angeles.  Eli Broad, billionaire philanthropist, contemporary art collector and entrepreneur who co-founded homebuilding pioneer Kaufman and Broad Inc. and launched financial services giant SunAmerica Inc., died on Friday, April 30, 2021 in Los Angeles.  He was 87 years old.  (AP Photo / Richard Vogel, file)

FILE – In this September 16, 2015 file photo, Eli Broad poses for a photo at his museum, “The Broad,” in downtown Los Angeles. Eli Broad, billionaire philanthropist, contemporary art collector and entrepreneur who co-founded homebuilding pioneer Kaufman and Broad Inc. and launched financial services giant SunAmerica Inc., died on Friday, April 30, 2021 in Los Angeles. He was 87 years old. (AP Photo / Richard Vogel, file)


Eli Broad, billionaire philanthropist, contemporary art collector and entrepreneur who co-founded homebuilding pioneer Kaufman and Broad Inc. and started financial services giant SunAmerica Inc., died in Los Angeles on Friday. He was 87 years old.

Suzi Emmerling, spokesperson for the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, confirmed her death to The Associated Press. Emmerling said Broad died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after a long illness. No service was announced.

The New York Times reported his death for the first time.

“As a businessman Eli saw the corners, as a philanthropist he saw the world’s problems and tried to solve them, as a citizen he saw the possibility in our common community, and as a that husband, father and friend, he saw the potential of each of us, ”said Gerun Riley, president of the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation on Friday.

It was Broad (pronounced brohd) who provided much of the money and willpower used to reshape the once moribund downtown Los Angeles into a booming area of ​​expensive lofts, fancy dining establishments. and civic structures like the famous Walt Disney Concert Hall. He opened his own eponymous contemporary art museum and art lending library, the Broad, in 2015 in the city’s downtown area, next to Disney Hall.

“Eli Broad, in simple terms, was Los Angeles’ most influential private citizen of his generation,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Twitter. “He loved this city as deeply as anyone I have ever known.”

As a young accountant in the 1950s, Broad saw opportunities in the booming real estate market. He quit his job and partnered with developer Donald Kaufman and began building starter homes for first-time buyers keen to claim their share of the American Dream. The company eventually became KB Home, one of the country’s most successful real estate developers.

Almost 30 years later, Broad spotted a new opportunity and transformed the company’s insurance arm into a retirement savings conglomerate that served the financial needs of aging baby boomers.

In the process, Broad has become one of the richest men in the country, with a financial net worth estimated by Forbes magazine on Friday at $ 6.9 billion.

He also gained a reputation as a motivated and tenacious trader.

“If you play it safe all the time, you’re not getting very far,” Broad told Investor’s Business Daily in 2005.

Outside of work, Broad has used his wealth and status to carry out civic, educational, scientific, and cultural improvement projects, especially in Los Angeles. The New York native had moved to the Tony Brentwood section of the city in 1963. His charitable foundations have donated millions of dollars to such projects, especially those aimed at improving public education, and have created endowments in several universities across the country.

In the 1990s, Broad led the campaign to help raise funds to build the Walt Disney Concert Hall designed by Frank Gehry and was a major supporter of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, among other institutions. An avid art lover since the 1960s, Broad had a collection estimated at $ 500 million in 2003.

In 1984, he established the Broad Art Foundation to loan works from his collection for public viewing.

A decade later, he bought Roy Lichtenstein’s “I … I’m Sorry” for $ 2.5 million at a credit card auction and donated the over 2 million points. of loyalty he has accumulated to the students of the California Institute for the Arts. In 2008, with its money, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art opened its new Broad Contemporary Art Museum, which features works from Broad’s collection.

Broad also wielded considerable political power. A Democrat, he led the campaign to attract the party’s national convention in 2000 in Los Angeles. However, he broke away from his party at times, most notably in 1972 when, disappointed with Senator George McGovern’s campaign, he served as Democrats’ co-chair for Nixon.

Years after Nixon resigned the disgraced presidency, Broad told Los Angeles Magazine that his efforts on behalf of Nixon were something that “I hate to admit.” But it wasn’t the last time he backed a Republican. He also supported his close friend, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, with whom he shared a common vision for public school reform.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) praised Broad and his wife, Edythe, for their philanthropic efforts.

“Their leadership in supporting our schools, advancing scientific and medical research and ensuring that all have access to the arts leaves a lasting and remarkable legacy,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Our entire nation is especially indebted to the Broads for their commitment to supporting the arts, which they knew to be a vital and unifying force in the world.”

The son of Lithuanian immigrants, Broad was born June 6, 1933 in New York City but raised in Detroit. Her father was a house painter and a small business owner.

Broad received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University in 1954. In 1991, he endowed the university’s Eli Broad College of Business and Eli Broad Graduate School of Management.

At 20, he passed the Michigan Certified Public Accountant exam, becoming the youngest at the time to do so. The following year he married his hometown girlfriend Edythe. The couple had two sons, Jeffrey and Gary. His wife and sons survive him, according to The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

Eager to quit school and start his career, Broad began working for several clients, including Kaufman. Soon Broad took note of the real estate market and began to study the field, read industry reviews, and use his accounting skills to analyze the business. He gradually became convinced that there was money to be made.

In 1957, at the age of 23, he went into business with Kaufman, selling homes in suburban Detroit. The first homes sold for around $ 12,000, or about 10% less than the competition, as they were built without the usual basements and in about half the time.

Kaufman and Broad took their approach to the West, first to Arizona and then to California. They moved the company’s headquarters to Los Angeles in 1963, two years after it became the first automaker to go public.

In 1971, Broad bought an insurance company to protect against boom and bust cycles in the real estate market. As he had done before venturing into real estate, Broad began researching the insurance market and saw financial planning for retirees as a better business. He began to shift the focus of the branch towards selling annuities and other retirement savings products.

The company was renamed SunAmerica in 1989, with Broad as president and chief executive officer. In 1998, New York-based American International Group acquired SunAmerica for $ 16.5 billion.

Two years later, Broad resigned as chief, but retained the title of president.

“I’ll do the things I love to do and the things I could be most valuable with rather than doing everyday things,” Broad told The Associated Press at the time. “I love working. Right now I’m probably working 80 hours a week. … I can still see myself working almost 40 hours at SunAmerica / AIG and maybe 40 hours in other fields.”

In recent years, Broad has spent much of his time engaging in philanthropic work through his foundations, advocating for public education reform, promoting the renaissance of downtown Los Angeles as a center. commercial and residential and other causes.

In 1999, the Broads founded the Broad Foundation, which committed over $ 500 million to improve urban public education in its first five years.

Broad took a CEO approach, believing that struggling schools could often be significantly improved if they were better managed by their principals.

“These are huge businesses,” Broad said of urban school districts in an interview with Forbes magazine in 2003. “You don’t start from the bottom. You start at the top. ”


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