Philanthropist and art collector Eli Broad dies at 87

Businessman, philanthropist and art collector Eli Broad, who left an indelible mark on the Los Angeles cultural scene, died on Friday. He was 87 years old.

Broad died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after a long illness, according to Suzi Emmerling, spokeswoman for the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

Originally from New York, Broad turned a loan from his in-laws into a homebuilding empire with his partner Donald Kaufman which started in Detroit in the late 1950s but migrated to Los Angeles in 1963. This company, Kaufman and Broad Home Corp., became what is now known as KB Home.

In the 1970s he acquired the Sun Life Insurance Company for $52 million. The company, eventually changed to SunAmerica, was sold to American International Insurance Group in 1998 for $17.8 billion.

He was the first person to develop two Fortune 500 companies in different industries. Forbes estimated Broad’s net worth at $6.7 billion two years ago.

The sale of SunAmerica freed Broad to focus on philanthropy. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation was founded in 1999, with an endowment that eventually topped $2 billion. Over the years, the foundation has invested more than $600 million in public education in the Southland and in cities such as Boston, New York, Chicago, Denver and Detroit.

The Broad Award for Urban Education continues to honor school districts for academic achievement and has provided $16 million in scholarships to more than 1,200 students.

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

Broad also devoted himself to scientific and medical research, as well as the arts, supporting scientists, museums and public schools across the country. An avid collector, the Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles houses the Broads’ collection of over 2,000 works of art.

His name also adorns the Broad Center at the Yale School of Management, a development program for leaders in the public school system, and the Broad Institute, a medical genomics research center founded with Harvard University and the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

With more than $100 million in donations, he established stem cell research centers at UCLA, USC, and UC San Francisco. He also donated more than $50 million to his alma mater, Michigan State University, to establish colleges and graduate schools of commerce and to establish a museum of contemporary art.

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He was also founding president of the Museum of Contemporary Art and a major benefactor of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, LA Opera and the Broad Stage.

He has also been politically active in recent years, pouring money into political campaigns, with a particular eye on climate change, voter rights and a wealth tax.

Broad is survived by his wife Edye and two sons Jeffrey and Gary.

Norma D. Ross