Eli Broad’s decision to build his art museum on Bunker Hill, and how he arrived at the decision , "illustrates how the billionaire homebuilder does business, and how he has come to be the premiere cultural force in L.A.," LA Weekly senior features editor Tom Christie writes in the Daily Beast.
The portrait that emerges in dozens of interviews is of a driven, exacting, and detail-oriented man involved in all facets of L.A.’s cultural life, someone with an amazing ability to simultaneously focus on the big picture while, as one interviewee put it, “telling you which postage stamp to use”...
The downside of what critics see as the intrusive nature of his philanthropy: Projects paid for by Broad tend to come with their own built-in costs: conflicts and battles for control.
The obvious historical parallel is that he comes out of a line of L.A. tycoons—Norton Simon, J. Paul Getty, Armand Hammer—men who built wealth and then art collections and city monuments to themselves.
However, the most fitting comparison may be the movie mogul Louis B. Mayer, a self-made man who controlled his empire (and the talent who worked for him) with a steely grip. Except in Broad’s case, that steely reach extends to most of the city’s civic and cultural institutions. “When a supporter has so much power,” says one knowledgeable source, “that meddling starts to feel like a real intrusion. It’s a massive force to tell you how to sharpen your pencil.”
Christie has visited the Broad subject before, of course.