U.S. billionaire Eli Broad dies at 87

Eli Broad waits to speak during a media preview of The Broad Museum in Los Angeles, California, U.S.

Eli Broad, the billionaire entrepreneur turned philanthropist and art collector who played an outsized role in shaping the art and cultural scene of Los Angeles, died on Friday at the age of 87.

Broad passed away at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles following a long illness, said Suzi Emmerling, a spokeswoman for the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

An accountant by trade who made his fortune in real estate and insurance, Broad championed and helped finance the Broad Museum of contemporary art, which opened in 2015.

He also secured the art that would become the museum’s first major acquisition, the collection of Italian Count Guiseppe Biumo di Panza, now said to be worth $1 billion, according to a biography of Broad on the foundation’s website.

Broad contributed heavily to the construction of the nearby Walt Disney Concert Hall as well as an art center at the University of California, Los Angeles.

His donations also helped open the Broad Center at Yale School of Management, and the Broad Institute, a genomic medicine research center created in partnership with Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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

Broad was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1933 and moved to Detroit with his family while still young. It was in that Midwestern city that he would begin his career as a real estate developer, building single-family homes in the suburbs.

He invested in an insurance company in the 1970s, renaming it Sun America, and made much of his fortune there before selling the business for $18 billion in the mid-1990s. He and his wife Edythe moved to Los Angeles in 1963.

An avid art collector, Broad turned to philanthropy full time in 1999, according to a biography on the foundation’s website. He retired from the foundation in 2016.

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

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