Billionaire developer and arts patron Eli Broad, who helped put Los Angeles on the high-culture map, died Friday, a spokeswoman said. He was 87.
He died Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after a long illness, said Suzi Emmerling, spokeswoman for the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.
Broad founded homebuilder KB Home and acquired life insurance and financial services company SunAmerica Inc. Both became Fortune 500 companies, feeding his estimated $6.9 billion net worth and helping to make him a power player in L.A. culture and politics.
With his wife, Edythe Broad, he made donations that were legendary: $400 million to a joint biomedical venture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; $60 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; $30 million to “rescue” the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art; $20 million for stem cell research at UCLA; millions for public schools; and $225 million, raised with the help of others, to save the development of Frank Gehry-designed Disney Hall, which opened in Los Angeles in 2003.
He was part of an unsuccessful attempt in 2007, along with Southern California grocery store magnate Ron Burkle, to purchase the Tribune Co. newspaper chain, which at the time owned his hometown publication, the Los Angeles Times.
The paper’s owner, biomedical billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, and his wife, Michele, said in a statement published by the Times on Friday that they joined “the city of Los Angeles in mourning the loss of Eli Broad. The city and the nation have lost an icon.”
In 2011 Broad told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that he enjoyed seeing his name on buildings that were beneficiaries of his largesse. “I don’t keep it a secret,” he said.
“I’m here to make things better or different,” Broad said.
His pièce de résistance was downtown L.A.’s $140 million Broad Museum, which opened in 2015 and features 2,000 works of art from the Broads’ $1.6 billion art collection.
He retired in 2017 from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and its $2.5 billion endowment, passing on responsibility for running it to its president, Gerun Riley.
Broad told “60 Minutes” his philanthropy was not about charity: “We don’t give it away, we invest it.”
He is survived by his wife and two grown sons.
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