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Billionaire Eli Broad dies at age 87, helping create the Los Angeles art scene

Eli Broad, the billionaire entrepreneur who became a philanthropist and art collector who played an exaggerated role in shaping Los Angeles art and culture, died Friday at the age of 87.

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

An accountant who created his fortune in real estate and insurance, championed and helped fund the Broad Museum of Modern Art, which opened in 2015.

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

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

Eli Broad is waiting to speak during a media preview of The Broad Museum in Los Angeles, California on September 16, 2015. REUTERS / Kevork Djansezian / File Photo

His donations also helped open the Broad Center at the 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 looked around corners, as a philanthropist he saw the problems in the world and tried to solve them, as a citizen he saw the opportunity in our common society, and as a husband, father and friend he saw the potential in each of us,” said Gerun Riley, president of Eli and the Edythe Broad Foundation, in a statement.

Born in the Bronx, New York, in 1933, Broad moved to Detroit with his family while still young. It was in the Midwestern city that he wanted to begin his career as a property developer and build single-family homes in the suburbs.

He invested in an insurance company in the 1970s and renamed it Sun America, earning much of his fortune there before selling the company 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 full-time philanthropy in 1999, according to a biography on the foundation’s website. He retired from the fund in 2016.

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

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