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Ted Forstmann, CEO of IMG Worldwide, Dead at 71

The head of the talent management and TV production firm and former investment banker succumbed to brain cancer

Ted Forstmann, former investment banker and CEO of IMG Worldwide, has died following a battle with brain cancer.

He was 71.

The company announced the death on Sunday, writing on its website:

"It is with great sadness that IMG Worldwide announces the passing of its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Theodore J. (“Ted”) Forstmann.  Mr. Forstmann passed away today after a courageous battle against brain cancer."

Forstmann was one of the top figures in the entertainment industry and a leading  Wall Street investor who led the world's largest sports talent agency, IMG, since acquiring the company in 2004.

IMG is the largest sports agency in the world, representing sports stars from Tiger Woods and Roger Federer to corporate behemoths including Nike and Rolex.

Prior to buying IMG, Forstmann co-founded the investment firm Forstmann Little & Co.

Under his leadership, the firm made 31 acquisitions and investments, and ultimately returned more than $15 billion to its investors in companies such as Gulfstream Aerospace, which the firm led in a dramatic turnaround story, General Instrument and Dr. Pepper. 

In a drama that unfolded just a few weeks ago as Forstmann lived the final chapter of his life, his long-time friend Michael Ovitz and IMG board member tried to wrest control of the company from him.

Read also: Michael Ovitz IMG Takeover Bid Fails, Board Aligns 7-4 for Ouster 

Sick as he was, Forstmann marshalled his board and instructed that no further discussion of the matter leak to the public. Ovitz was booted from the company and COO Mike Dolan was left in charge. 

In addition to his formidable business career, Forstmann was a leading philanthropist, pledging to donate the majority of his wealth to worthy causes in his lifetime. In 1998, he co-founded the Children’s Scholarship Fund (“CSF”), the country’s largest charity providing educational scholarships to low-income families. 

In the 1980s, Forstmann was also a high-profile critic of the junk-bond movement on Wall Street who famously lost a bidding war for Nabisco — a story chronicled in the book and subsequent movie adaptation "Barbarians at the Gate."

Forstmann graduated from Yale University and received his law degree from Columbia University.  He received honorary doctorate degrees from Pepperdine University and Siena College. 

In his personal life, Forstmann was romantically linked to Princess Diana at one point.

He is survived by his two sons Siya and Everest, and leaves brothers Anthony and John, and sisters Marina Forstmann Day and Elissa Forstmann Moran.

IMG has not announced a replacement.

The company said that the Forstmann family invited friends to call at Frank E. Campbell at 1076 Madison Avenue at 81st Street, on Monday, November 21st from 6:00-8:30 pm. and Tuesday, November 22nd from 12:00-3:00 p.m. and from 5:00-7:00 p.m.

A Memorial Mass will be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Tuesday, November 29th at 10:00 a.m.