Eli Broad has been getting his papers in order -- all 19 cartons of them. The billionaire philanthropist behind the $140-million Broad contemporary art museum that opened last week in Los Angeles is donating his personal papers to the UCLA Library Special Collections, the university is expected to announce on Wednesday.
“This decision to donate my archives to UCLA is the culmination of many years of consideration,” Broad said by email. “I’ve always kept files of all of my business, philanthropic and civic endeavors, and we thought these materials might be of interest to current and future scholars who are interested in Los Angeles history.”
The collection of records documenting more than five decades of Broad’s life will be delivered to UCLA in multiple installments. The first batch of archival materials, already available at the library, includes home videos and personal photographs dating to 1957 that show Broad as a child, pictures from his 60th birthday party and five albums of photographs of Broad at events with politicians and celebrities such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and Muhammad Ali. The first installment, most of which is from the 1990s or later, also has travel itineraries, news clippings about Broad’s real estate and art dealings, annual reports for SunAmerica (the investment company he founded) and annotated speeches. The collection even includes some of his phone logs and “week at a glance” desk calendars.
The UCLA library couldn’t cite the number of pieces but said the first installment alone -- those 19 cartons -- was equivalent in size to “17 linear feet of shelf space.” The library wouldn’t assign a monetary value.
“We’ve had a longstanding relationship with UCLA, and when I was considering research institutions for my archive, I was impressed with the scholarship of UCLA’s special collections,” Broad said. “UCLA makes access a priority, which is something I highly value.”
University librarian Ginny Steel said that Broad approached UCLA a little more than two years ago.
“It’s tremendously exciting for us because it gives us materials that really flesh out the story of Los Angeles as it developed into a world-class city -- and Eli was so deeply involved in making that happen,” Steel said. “Over the past decade, we’ve been gathering papers from individuals and communities that make up the city. We have the papers from Tom Bradley, Henry Waxman, the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. So this fits into the collections that we already have -- traditional materials that document Los Angeles.”
Broad, who grew up in Detroit and moved to L.A. in 1963, built SunAmerica and (with Donald Kaufman) KB Home into Fortune 500 companies. Through his family foundation, he’s been an active philanthropist in science, education and the arts since 1967, and he has increased his focus on philanthropy since leaving the business world in 1999. During the last 31 years, the Broad Art Foundation has made more than 8,000 loans of contemporary art to about 500 institutions worldwide, the foundation said.
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation’s total giving to UCLA, since the late 1960s, is more than $57 million. Most recently, in May 2014, the foundation gifted UCLA with $4 million for researching stem-cell science and digestive diseases and for recruitment of new faculty.
In a UCLA statement, Broad added that he has enjoyed “four distinct careers -- accounting, homebuilding, retirement savings and now philanthropy,” he said, “and I am humbled to share the records of my activities with students and historians.”
Arrival dates for the additional installments haven’t been set.