Bloomberg, no mean philanthropist himself, admires Broad's "uncuddly" approach and the $32 million he has given to New York schools.
"Eli Broad sets the standard," Mayor Bloomberg said. "I think it's really being a role model for others. And they look at Eli and because of him, they get the ideas, 'I'm going to be innovative and be philanthropic and do some other things.' The leverage of Eli Broad is really quite amazing."
Amazing to the extent of almost half a billion dollars he has poured into improving public education. He spends even more on medical research: eight years ago he teamed up with Harvard and MIT to create The Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass. The Broad is the world's leading genomic medicine institute. All discoveries are free, available to anyone.
"Let me be rude and ask: How much have you put into this institute?" Safer asked.
"600 million dollars total," Broad replied.
Broad grew up in Detroit, the only child of immigrant shopkeepers. At 21, he married Edye Lawson.
"We borrowed $25,000 from her parents," Broad remembered.
Asked what that sum ultimately led to, Broad told Safer, "A lot of money."
In 1957, Broad and a partner launched a no-frills home building business; he was a millionaire by 27. He bought Sun Life Insurance in 1971 and sold it in 1999 for $18 billion. And that's when he and Edye decided to give most of it away.
"You're giving 75 percent of your wealth away?" Safer asked.
"Maybe more by the time it's over," Broad replied.
As for his two children, Broad said, "They're well taken care of. They're different then their dad."
"Different, how?" Safer asked.
"They don't have, frankly, the ambition to build a great business that I had," Broad replied.
"You've been open about admitting that you were not a great father," Safer remarked.
"Look when I started, it was 24/7 as they say, and I didn't spend enough time with the kids when they were growing up. I admit that," Broad acknowledged.
Asked if that is something he regrets now, Broad said, "I do to some degree. We all go back and would do things over differently in our lives."
Today, Broad balances his life with his passion for contemporary art. "Civilizations are not remembered by their business people, their bankers or lawyers. They're remembered by the arts," he said.
He has collected over 2,000 works of art; unlike most collectors, almost all of Broad's art is available for loan to museums. He loaned a number of pieces to the L.A. County Museum of Art, and threw in a $50 million building to house them.
One of his favorite artists is the irrepressible Jeff Koons.
"You know Morley and Eli, I just have to say standing here, what a fantastic location. I mean look at the natural light that is coming in on these works, it's a tremendous gallery," Koons said, as they stood in an exhibition space.