Billionaire Eli Broad, who reshaped Los Angeles’ landscape, dead at 87

  • Businessman and philanthropist Eli Broad died Friday at the age of 87 after a lengthy illness.
  • The self-made billionaire helped shape the city of Los Angeles, building museums and funding cultural institutions.
  • Broad built two Fortune 500 companies during his lifetime, and Forbes estimated his fortune at $6.9 billion. 
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Eli Broad, a philanthropist and self-made billionaire who used his fortune to reshape the culture of the city of Los Angeles, died Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at the age of 87. 

Broad built two Fortune 500 companies during his lifetime and played a role in funding and shaping institutions like the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. The businessman went on to build his own museum in the heart of LA, a city he loved and helped transform into a cultural capital. 

A spokeswoman for the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation told The New York Times his death came after a lengthy illness. 

The New York native chose California as his home and found massive success in the home construction and insurance industries. Forbes estimated his fortune at $6.9 billion. 

Broad bought his first real estate at 20, before co-founding Kaufman & Broad in 1957 with a $12,500 loan from his in-laws, according to Forbes. The home builder became one of the biggest in the nation to provide affordable housing. Broad also found success when he bought Sun Life Insurance, then later sold it for $18 billion in stock in 1998.

In the 1970s, Broad was named fouding chairman of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, and in 2008, he saved the institution from collapse with a $30-million grant. 

He worked with developers to transform Los Angeles’ Grand Avenue into a cultural hub, alive with hotels, restaurants, a park, and his own museum.

Broad and his wife, Edythe, were avid art collectors and enthusiasts. They opened the Broad Museum in LA in 2015, which offers free admission to fellow art appreciators to view works from the couple’s collection of more than 2,000 works.

Through two foundations, the couple supported medical research, public education, and the visual and performing arts. Their foundations have pledged and given away over $4 billion in grants, Forbes reported. 

“There’s no curtain you can’t get through in Los Angeles — no religious curtain, no curtain about where you came from,” Mr. Broad told The Times in 2001. “It’s a meritocracy, unlike some other cities. If you have ideas here, if you have energy, you’ll be accepted. I love LA.”

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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