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LA philanthropist and billionaire Eli Broad dies at 87

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Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, who poured his wealth into cultural and civic development projects throughout the city of Los Angeles, died Friday at the age of 87.

Suzi Emmerling, a spokeswoman for the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, announced Broad’s death at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in a statement to multiple news outlets.

While the spokeswoman did not list a specific cause of death, she said Broad’s death came after battling a long illness, according to The New York Times.

Broad, who made his estimated $6.9 billion fortune in the home construction and insurance industries, later devoted his time to founding and investing in museums, music halls and schools. 

In the late 1970s he became the founding chairman of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, and in 2008, when the museum was facing a financial crisis, Broad gave a $30 million grant to bail it out, the Los Angeles Times noted. 

In 2015, the billionaire financed and launched his own $140 million art museum, called The Broad, which holds more than 2,000 contemporary art pieces from Broad’s own collection.

Broad also gave $50 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and helped push the Walt Disney Concert Hall into existence. 

Beyond art, Broad also gave millions of dollars to medical and scientific research centers, including stem cell research programs at schools like UCLA, USC and Harvard. 

The Los Angeles Times noted that Broad had a major focus on funding charter schools in the area, and for about 12 years, organized the annual $1-million Broad Prize to recognize students with substantial academic achievement in urban school districts. 

Los Angeles Times Executive Chairman Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and his wife, Michele, said in a statement following Broad’s death Friday that Los Angeles “and the nation have lost an icon.” 

“We join the city of Los Angeles in mourning the loss of Eli Broad,” they added. “Eli’s life story is an inspiration and testament to the possibilities America holds.” 

Broad, who moved from New York to California more than 50 years ago, was also known for his control and strict involvement in philanthropic projects, making him an often polarizing figure throughout the city. 

In his own 2012 memoir, “The Art of Being Unreasonable: Lessons in Unconventional Thinking,” Broad admitted, “I’m not the most popular person in Los Angeles.”

Tags California charter schools Harvard Los Angeles LOS ANGELES TIMES New York Times obituary Philanthropy Scholarships
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