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Eli Broad, Il Magnifico

By Laurie Bennett

December 16, 2010 at 9:21am

He has been called the Lorenzo de Medici of Los Angeles.

Having made billions in home construction, financial services and investments, Eli Broad is now contributing hundreds of millions to art.

As the New Yorker noted in a recent profile, Broad has stepped into the breach left by the decline of the city’s old power structure. The Committee of Twenty-five - the business leaders who ran Los Angeles decades ago - no longer exists. The Chandlers no longer control the Los Angeles Times and its circulation area.

Broad, 76, has given away more than $2 billion, much of it going to local institutions such as the California Institute of Technology, Broad Stage and the Los Angeles Opera.

Eli Broad
Eli Broad

His pride, though, is the L.A. art world. He has bailed out the struggling Museum of Contemporary Art and is a life trustee of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Relations with the two institutions have been stormy at times, and now he is establishing his own museum, the Broad Collection, to be built in downtown L.A., next to MOCA.

Although Broad has said the collection will work closely with the MOCA, many question the city’s ability to support three major art museums.

Broad, however, is wildly optimistic. “There is no question that Los Angeles has become the contemporary-art capital of the world,” he announced at a MOCA fundraising gala last month.

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