May 12, 2021

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Eli Broad, Who Helped Reshape Los Angeles, Dies at 87 – The New York Times

2 min read

Along with his art, he collected enemies. Hard-driving, curt and impatient, Mr. Broad was a polarizing figure.

“I’m not the most popular person in Los Angeles,” he wrote in “The Art of Being Unreasonable: Lessons in Unconventional Thinking,” a memoir and business-advice book published in 2012.

No one disputed the claim. Museum directors and trustees often found him meddlesome and impossible to please, determined to run the show and loath to share credit. He hired star architects and then feuded with them, notably Frank Gehry, and kept museums in a lather vying for his collection, which, in the end, he decided to lend rather than donate, and exhibit in his own museum.

Even his critics had to concede, however, that he was probably the most effective civic leader Los Angeles had seen since Dorothy Chandler, a remarkable achievement for a transplanted Midwesterner with no family ties to his adopted city.

“There’s no curtain you can’t get through in Los Angeles — no religious curtain, no curtain about where you came from,” Mr. Broad told The New York Times in 2001. “It’s a meritocracy, unlike some other cities. If you have ideas here, if you have energy, you’ll be accepted. I love L.A.”

Eli Broad was born in the Bronx on June 6, 1933, the only child of Jewish immigrants from Lithuania. When he was 7, the family moved to Detroit, where his father opened a dime store.

After graduating from Detroit Central High, he entered Michigan State College (now University), where he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting in three years. Soon after, he married Edythe Lawson, known as Edye, who survives him, as do their two sons, Jeffrey and Gary.

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