Eli Broad Dies: Businessman, Philanthropist, Founder of L.A.’s Broad Museum Was 87

Businessman, philanthropist and art collector Eli Broad, who left an indelible imprint on Los Angeles’ cultural scene, died today at age 87.

The New York Times reported that Broad died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. A spokeswoman for the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation tells the paper his death followed a long illness.

Broad made his fortune building single-family homes. He and Donald Bruce Kaufman founded KB (Kaufman & Broad) Homes in Detroit in 1956 when Broad was barely 20 years old. The firm went on to build more than 600,000 homes in the postwar boom, many of them in Southern California. He later bought Sun Life Insurance, transforming it into annuities giant SunAmerica, before selling it to AIG for $18 billion in stock in 1998.

Forbes listed his wealth in its 2021 ranking of the world’s billionaires at $6.9 billion.

For decades, Broad and his wife Edythe have maintained two foundations which have $3 billion in combined assets. The foundations support medical research, public education and the visual and performing arts and have disbursed more than $4 billion in donations. Broad stepped back from running the foundations in 2017.

According to the New York Times, Broad’s interest in collecting began when Edythe began buying works from the galleries on La Cienega. He quickly joined her.

One of his most lasting contributions to Los Angeles is, of course, The Broad downtown that houses his art and charges no admission to the public.

Even before The Broad, he was one of the country’s most prominent collectors and owned works by Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, and many especially strong examples of contemporary art.

Broad was the founding chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 1979 and chaired the board until 1984. He was a life trustee of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and liked to call L.A. a “cultural capital of the world.”

City News Service contributed to this report.

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