Why and how Eli Broad is giving billions away

Morley Safer profiles the billionaire, who keeps a keen eye on how his donations are spent

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"And the Balloon Dog? What does it do to you? Do you get some kind of emotional kick?" Safer asked Broad, referring to a well-known Koons creation.

"I do, I do. It makes me smile, it makes me feel good, It make me proud, and it especially makes me proud when I see young people and others looking at the work. And it introduces them to art in a way that no other work really does," he replied.

"And a piece that quite honestly mystifies me. Michael Jackson and his chimp is it?" Safer asked, referring to a gold-adorned porcelain-like sculpture of the late pop star and his chimp.

"Michael Jackson and Bubbles," Koons said. "When I made this series, the banality series."

"Series of banality?" Safer asked.

"Of images. I was trying to communicate to people that whatever you respond to, it's perfect," Koons explained.

If you find Koons' art speak incomprehensible, well just wait: "These are to make references to be in the womb a little bit, ah, before birth and prior to any kind of concept of death," the artist said, explaining one of his pieces of art - a fish tank with three basketballs suspended inside.

"Do you totally get what he's talking about?" Safer asked Broad.

"Not to the extent that Jeff does, but I do listen and understand and learn from the artists, especially Jeff," he replied.

But not all artists are as respectful as Koons. Take architect Frank Gehry: "Eli is a control freak. I worked on a house for him. I didn't wanna do it."

Asked why, Gehry said, "I just told him I didn't like him. He said you'll learn to like me."

Broad fired Gehry, then built the house anyway using Gehry's drawings.

"After two years and seven different models I was impatient. I think he wanted to spend another year or two designing it. And I said, 'Frank, a work of art is never finished - it's only abandoned,'" Broad explained.

They worked together again three years later to build Disney Hall. Once again, Broad fired Gehry. But he had to eat humble pie when the Disney family insisted that he hire Gehry back.

"We did it. We built it. We weren't friends," Gehry remembered.

"You've made your peace with him at the same time you've...?" Safer asked.

"I won't do a project for him, that's true," Gehry said.

"Eli's middle name is 'strings attached.' Eli 'Strings Attached' Broad," Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight told Safer.

Knight has been "Broad watching" for years. "He's a first generation male self-made gazillionaire and people in that category typically believe, and with good evidence, that they know how to make something a success. And that can be a problem," he told Safer.

With science, Broad leaves the details to the experts, but when he dangles his money and his art in front of most major museums in L.A., he sees himself as the expert - if they don't play, he won't pay.

"Well, I am a perfectionist, and things I do know something about, I do get involved," Broad said.

"We've talked to a number of people who say that you can turn into a bully," Safer pointed out.

"I don't think I am a bully. But on the other hand, I'm not a potted plant either," Broad replied.

"No, I am sure you're not a potted plant. But these people who say some pretty unkind things about you will not talk publicly. They clearly are scared of you," Safer said.

Broad replied, "I don't know why they're scared of me."

"Well because you're a rich guy, and therefore a powerful guy, and you've got a temper?" Safer remarked.

"I've got strong views on things," Broad replied.

"But even your good friend Frank Gehry says, 'Eli can be a real pain in the ass,'" Safer pointed out.

"I can understand why Frank could say that, because I am inpatient, and patience has its limits," Broad acknowledged.