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Museum Posts Quit by Norton Simon; Wife Succeeds Him

Times Staff Writer

Retired industrialist Norton Simon has resigned as president of the Norton Simon Museum and was succeeded by his wife, actress Jennifer Jones Simon, museum officials announced late Wednesday.

The 82-year-old Simon also resigned as a member and trustee of the museum. The resignations were effective last Friday, a written statement released by the Pasadena museum said.

The statement also said that Simon had been recently admitted to UCLA Medical Center and was “presently hospitalized for undisclosed medical reasons.” However, Rich Elbaum, a medical center spokesman, said Wednesday night that Simon was not currently a patient there.

“He is definitely not an in-patient at this time,” Elbaum said, adding that he could not determine if Simon had been admitted to the hospital recently.

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A source close to the museum said that Simon is very ill and confined to a wheelchair.

Jennifer Jones Simon, who won an Academy Award for best actress for her performance in the 1943 film “Song of Bernadette,” was elected to replace her husband as president and will lead the museum’s board of trustees as chairman, president and chief executive officer, the museum statement said.

No representative of the museum could be reached for comment late Wednesday.

Simon’s art collection, one of the most coveted in the world, has an estimated value in excess of $750 million. It includes many works by old masters, such as Raphael and Rembrandt, and a large number of works by modern masters.

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Last June, Simon abandoned a widely publicized offer to donate the collection to UCLA. There have been no further announcements about the future of the art works, which presently are on long-term loan to the Pasadena museum.

Simon has claimed for years that his wealth is not sufficient to finance the museum in perpetuity and so will be forced to make arrangements to house the collection at another institution.

A native of Portland, Ore., Simon made his fortune in the 1920s and ‘30s in the vegetable packing and canning industries. By the 1970s, he had built a corporate conglomerate worth more than $1 billion.

The museum also announced Wednesday the addition of two trustees: Simon’s granddaughter, Pamela Simon, who is currently studying film making at the UCLA Graduate School of Motion Picture and Television, and Professor Seymour Slive of Harvard, formerly of Pomona College.


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