Eli Broad, the billionaire philanthropist, contemporary art collector and entrepreneur who co-founded homebuilding pioneer Kaufman and Broad Inc. and launched financial services giant SunAmerica Inc., died Friday in Los Angeles. He was 87.
It was Broad who provided much of the money and willpower used to reshape Los Angeles’ once moribund downtown into a burgeoning area of expensive lofts, fancy dining establishments and civic structures like the landmark Walt Disney Concert Hall. He opened his own eponymous contemporary art museum and art lending library, the Broad, in 2015 in the city’s downtown next to Disney Hall.
“Eli Broad, simply put, was L.A.’s most influential private citizen of his generation,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Twitter. “He loved this city as deeply as anyone I have ever known.”
As a young accountant in the 1950s, Broad saw opportunity in the booming real estate market. He quit his job and partnered with developer Donald Kaufman and began building starter homes for first-time buyers eager to claim their slice of the American Dream. The company eventually became KB Home, one of the most successful home developers in the nation. Nearly 30 years later, Broad spotted opportunity once more and transformed the company’s insurance arm into a retirement savings conglomerate that catered to the financial needs of aging baby boomers. In the process, Broad became one of the nation’s wealthiest men, with a financial net worth estimated by Forbes magazine Friday at $6.9 billion. He also gained a reputation for being a driven, tenacious dealmaker. Today on AirTalk, we remember Broad. Do you have thoughts or memories to share? Leave them in the comments below or call 866-893-5722.
With files from the Associated Press
Fernando Guerra, professor of political science and Chicana/o Latina/o studies and director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University; emeritus member of the KPCC Board of Trustees