Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, a major figure in the Los Angeles art world and a large-scale donor to numerous charitable and civic causes, died Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was battling an unspecified illness. He was 87.
A spokes person for Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation confirmed the news to the New York Times.
Born in New York City in 1933, Broad’s family moved to Detroit when he was a child. He attended Michigan State University and became the youngest person in state history to be credentialed as a CPA, a record that held until 2010. He partnered with homebuilder Donald Kaufman in 1956 to form the Kaufman & Broad. The company relocated to Phoenix in 1960 and finally to Los Angeles in 1963, where Broad remained for the rest of his life.
The company became the first homebuilding outfit to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1969. Before Broad stepped down as CEO and owner of the company in 1974, it would become the retirement savings giant SunAmerica. Through these endeavors Broad earned billions and, as of the day of his death, Forbes estimates his net worth to be $6.9 billion.
Broad and his wife Edythe became major figures in Los Angeles’ art and culture world beginning in the late 1970s. He was the founding chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Art, which he was instrumental in establishing. He was a life trustee of the Los Angeles County Museum, and over the decades donated millions to LA-area museums.
He also established the Broad museum, which opened in 2015.
He and his wife created the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Broad Art Foundation, which had assets in 2019 of $2.5 billion. They both also signed onto The Giving Pledge and personally committed to giving 75% of their wealth to charity. The mission of the foundation was to expand opportunities to students in underserved communities to maximize their learning potential.
Their philanthropy also included donating more that $4 billion to aid K-12 public schools, scientific and medical research and bringing art to a wider audience.
Among his many honors, Broad was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was named Chevalier in the National Order of the Legion of Honor by the Republic of France.