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Eli Broad, Philanthropist Who Helped Reshape LA, Dies at 87

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Eli Broad, a self-made billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist who used his wealth to reshape the cultural landscape of Los Angeles, died Friday. He was 87.

MOCA Gala 2016 - Arrivals
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 14: Eli Broad attends the 2016 MOCA Gala at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA on May 14, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Broad died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center following a long illness, a spokesperson for the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation said.

"Eli Broad will be remembered as one of the most consequential civic leaders Los Angeles has ever seen," Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a statement. "He loved his adopted city and, through his generosity, helped transform L.A.'s physical and cultural landscape and make it the capital of arts and culture it is today."

The Disney Concert Hall, home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, would not exist without him. Neither would the Museum of Contemporary Art nor the expanded Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His passion for the arts, and sharing them, is among one of his greatest legacies.

"His legacy is awesome," Zev Yaroslavsky, longtime L.A. city and county leader, said. "He's a giant."

Broad also gave generously to education, donating money to USC, UCLA, CalTech and public schools; funding programs in communities across the city for students and to train school leaders.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a series of tweets that Broad was "L.A.'s most influential private citizen of his generation," who "loved this city as deeply as anyone I have ever known."

"He was a dreamer, often seeing things that others didn't or couldn't," Garcetti wrote. "He was a builder — of homes, the arts, educational opportunity, health breakthroughs that transformed dreams into reality. I feel his loss and our city feels his loss deeply."

Broad was born in 1933 in the Bronx, New York, but moved with his family to Detroit at the age of six. He graduated cum laude in 1954 from Michigan State University where he majored in accounting with a minor in economics.

In 1956, Broad entered into the homebuilding business in Detroit with partner Donald Bruce Kaufman. The pair later relocated the company to Los Angeles "for its booming real estate market and agreeable weather," according to a biography on The Broad Foundation's website. Broad stepped down as CEO of Kaufman and Broad Home Corporation, now KB Home, in 1974.

A few years before stepping down from the business, Broad acquired Sun Life Insurance Company of America which he transformed into retirement savings powerhouse SunAmerica. In 1998, Broad sold SunAmerica for $17.8 billion to American International Group and stepped down as CEO of the company the following year to focus full-time on his philanthropy.

Through The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the couple established two programs to help develop and support public school system leaders and managers, funded three stem cell centers in California and invested more than $1 billion to create and endow the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The couple also built The Broad, a museum in downtown Los Angeles, to hold their 2,000 artworks — with more than 3.5 million people visiting the facility in less than five years, according to The Broad Foundation.

"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.

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

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