Eli Broad, billionaire philanthropist, contemporary art collector and entrepreneur, has died

Todd Golub, director of the Cambridge institute and one of its early scientists, said in an email to his community on Friday that “Mr. Broad’s impact on the [institute] and biomedicine is immeasurable.

Without Eli, the Broad as we know it today would not exist, ”Golub wrote. “His involvement did not stop at our foundation. He was known for his high expectations in the business world, and he brought those same expectations to his philanthropic investments, hoping for results and inspiring excellence.

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

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

The Broad Institute brings together biologists, physicians, chemists, computer scientists, and others from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals to research new ways to understand and treat human disease .

Over the past two decades, institute officials say they have discovered genes and molecular foundations for diseases ranging from diabetes to cancer, and have begun to reveal key vulnerabilities in cells that could be targeted by drugs. More recently, the institute has played a major role in the fight against COVID-19 through research and testing.

The institute was launched with its first donation of $ 100 million. Known for his dedication to Los Angeles, Mr. Broad had no connection with Cambridge at the time.

“Edy and I were asked why, as residents of LA, we are creating the Broad Institute here in Cambridge and the answer is simple… science is more important than geography,” Mr. Broad told Harvard magazine in the ‘era. “There is no place in America, or anywhere in the world, we believe, that has the combined scientific quality and leadership that is here in Cambridge.”

As a young accountant in the 1950s, Mr. Broad saw an opportunity 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 home developers.

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

In the process, Mr. 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 determined and tenacious negotiator.

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

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

The son of Lithuanian immigrants, Mr. Broad was born June 6, 1933 in New York City but raised in Detroit.

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

At 20, he passed the Michigan Public Accountancy Exam, becoming the youngest person to do so. The following year, he married Edythe, his sweetheart from his hometown. The couple had two sons, Jeffrey and Gary. His wife and sons survive him, according to the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

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

Kaufman and Mr. Broad took their approach west, first to Arizona and then to California. They moved the company’s headquarters to Los Angeles in 1963.

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

The company was renamed SunAmerica in 1989, with Mr. Broad as President and CEO. In 1998, New York-based American International Group acquired SunAmerica for $ 16.5 billion.

Two years later, Mr. Broad stepped down as chief, but retained the title of president.

In recent years, Mr. Broad has devoted much of his time to philanthropic activities 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 Education Foundation, with the goal of improving urban public education. The foundation committed over $ 500 million to the cause in its first five years.

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

“These are huge businesses,” Mr. 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.


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @jeremycfox.

Norma D. Ross