Ellie Broad, billionaire philanthropist, contemporary art collector and entrepreneur, co-founder of housing pioneer Kaufman and Broad Inc. and launched financial services giant SunAmerica Inc., died Friday in Los Angeles. He was 87 years old.
Susie Emerling, a spokeswoman for the Ellie and Edith Brod Foundation, confirmed her death to the Associated Press. Emerling said Brod died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after a long illness. No services announced.
The New York Times first reported his death.
“As businessman Ellie saw around the corner, as a philanthropist he saw the problems in the world and tried to fix them, as a citizen he saw the opportunity in our common community, and as a husband, father and friend he saw the potential in each of us,”
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Broad (pronounced brohd) provided much of the money and willpower used to transform the once-dying center of Los Angeles into a thriving area of expensive attics, sophisticated dining and civic structures such as the remarkable Walt Disney Concert Hall. In 2015, he opened his own eponymous museum of contemporary art and art library, Broad, downtown next to Disney Hall.
“Eli Broad, simply put, was the most influential private citizen of Los Angeles of his generation,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garsetti said on Twitter. “He loved this city as deeply as anyone I ever knew.”
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 start-up houses for first-time buyers who wanted to claim their share of the American dream. Eventually, the company became KB Home, one of the most successful home developers in the country.
Nearly 30 years later, Broad once again saw the opportunity and transformed the company’s insurance division into a pension savings conglomerate that meets the financial needs of aging baby boomers.
In the process, Broad became one of the richest people in the country, with a financial net worth estimated by Forbes magazine on Friday at $ 6.9 billion.
He has also earned a reputation as a motivated, persistent manager.
“If you play safe all the time, you won’t get very far,” Shiroki told Investor’s Business Daily in 2005.
Outside of work, Broad uses its wealth and status to pursue civic, educational, scientific and cultural development projects, especially in Los Angeles. The New York-born man moved to the Brentwood neighborhood in 1963. His charities donated millions to such projects, especially those aimed at improving public education, and donated to several universities across the country.
In the 1990s, Broad led a fundraising campaign to build the Walt Disney Concert Hall designed by Frank Gehry and was a major patron of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, among other institutions. An avid art dog from the 1960s, Broad had a collection valued at $ 500 million in 2003.
In 1984, he founded the Broad Art Foundation to donate works from his collection to the public.
A decade later, he auctioned off Roy Liechtenstein’s “I’m … I’m sorry” credit card for $ 2.5 million and donated more than the 2 million flying points he earned to students at the California Institute of the Arts. In 2008, with his money, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art opened the new Shiroko Museum of Contemporary Art, featuring works from Broad’s collection.
Broad also exercised considerable political muscle. A Democrat, he spearheaded efforts to lure the party’s 2000 national convention in Los Angeles. He sometimes parted ways with his party, especially in 1972, when, frustrated by Senator George McGovern’s campaign, he served as Democrat co-chair for Nixon.
Years after Nixon shamefully resigned as president, Broad told Los Angeles magazine that his efforts on behalf of Nixon were something I “hate to admit.” But this is not the last time he will support a Republican. He also backed his close friend, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, with whom he shared a mutual vision for public school reform.
Home President Nancy Pelosi, California, praised Broad and his wife, Edith, for their charitable efforts.
“Their leadership to support our schools, to develop scientific and medical research and to ensure that everyone has access to the arts, leaves a lasting and remarkable legacy,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Our entire nation owes a special debt to Broads for their commitment to supporting the arts, which they knew were an essential, unifying force in the world.”
The son of Lithuanian immigrants, Brod was born on June 6, 1933 in New York, but grew up in Detroit. His father was a host and owner of a small business.
He earned his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in 1954. In 1991, he donated to Eli Broad University College of Business and Eli Broad Graduate School of Management.
At 20, he passed the Michigan Certified Public Accountant exam, becoming the youngest person to do so at the time. The following year, he married his beloved Edith. The couple had two sons, Jeffrey and Gary. His wife and sons survive, according to The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.
Looking forward to leaving school and starting his career, Broad began working for several clients, including Kaufman. Broad soon made a name for himself in the real estate market and began studying the field, reading industry magazines, and using his accounting know-how to analyze business. Gradually become convinced that there is money to be made.
In 1957, at the age of 23, he started a business with Kaufman, selling homes in suburban Detroit. The first homes sold for about $ 12,000, about 10 percent less than competitors because they were built without the usual basements and for about half the time.
Kaufman and Broad headed west, first to Arizona and then to California. They moved the company’s corporate headquarters to Los Angeles in 1963, two years after becoming the first house builder to go public.
In 1971, Broad bought an insurance company as a hedge against the boom and housing failure cycle. As he had done before embarking on real estate, Broad began researching the insurance market and viewing financial planning for retirees as a better business. He began shifting the subsidiary’s focus to selling annuities and other retirement savings products.
The company was renamed SunAmerica in 1989 with Broad Chairman and CEO. In 1998, the New York-based American International Group acquired SunAmerica for $ 16.5 billion.
Two years later, Broad left the post of chief, but retained the title of president.
“I will do the things I like to do and the things I could do the most with, instead of doing the everyday things,” Shiroki told the Associated Press at the time. “I love working. I probably work 80 hours a week right now. … I still see myself working nearly 40 hours at SunAmerica / AIG and maybe 40 hours in other things.”
In recent years, Broad has spent much of his time charitable through his foundations, advocating for public education reform, promoting the rebirth of downtown Los Angeles as a shopping and housing center, and other causes.
In 1999, Broads founded the Foundation for Broad Education to improve urban public education. The foundation has committed more than $ 500 million to the cause in the first five years.
Broad takes the principal’s approach, believing that problem schools can often be significantly improved if they are better managed by their principals.
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“These are huge businesses,” Brod told the city’s neighborhoods in an interview with Forbes magazine in 2003. “You don’t start from the bottom. You start from the top.”