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20 Things You Didn't Know About Leon Black

Leon Black

Leon Black is an investor who founded Apollo Global Management. The company is a private equity firm that he established in 1990. He's particularly skilled in private equity and leveraged buyouts. He is an interesting entrepreneur who recently experienced a bit of attention for former dealings with the late Jeff Epstein. We were intrigued by the level of success Black received and we checked into his history and career to learn more about him. Here are 20 things we discovered that you probably didn't know about Leon Black.

1. His father was a Polish immigrant

Leon was born to Eli M. and Shirley Lubell Black. His father emigrated from Poland to make a life for himself in America. Leon's father was successful in becoming the owner of the United Brands Company. He became a prominent businessman within the Jewish community. We assume that Leon gets his entrepreneurial streak from his father, who passed away in 1975 after jumping from a window on the 44th floor of the Pan Am Building in New York City.

2. His mother was an artist

Leon's mother was the sister of Benedict I Lubell, a Tulsa oil executive. She was an artist. She no doubt, had an influence on Leon because he has a very expensive art collection of his own. In fact, he is well-known for owning priceless works by some of the greatest artists of all time.

3. Leon has an ivy league education

After graduating from high school, Leon pursued his college education. He was accepted for admission to the prestigious Dartmouth College. He enrolled in philosophy and history courses and graduated with his bachelor's in both disciplines in 1973. He continued his education, enrolling at Harvard University where he obtained his MBA just two years later.

4. He was a member of Dartmouth's board

In 2002, Leon Black served on the Dartmouth College Board of Trustees until 2011. He made a sizable donation to the college's visual arts center. The total of the donation was $48 million and it was to help in the construction of the new facility. Black has a passion for visual art which goes back to his mother's profession as an artist.

5. He started out at Drexel Burnham Lambert

Black began his career as a managing director at Drexel Burnham Lambert which is an investment bank. He joined them in 1977 and remained employed with the firm until 1990. He headed the Mergers & Acquisitions Group for the company and also served as the co-head of its Corporate Finance Department. While at the company, he was regarded as Michael Milen's right-hand man, and he earned the nickname "junk bond king.

6. He is a multi-billionaire

Leon Black built up a massive fortune in net wealth. As of October of 2019, his real-time estimated net worth was placed at $7.4 billion. He is currently one of the richest men in the United States of America. He made his fortune in the investment and private equity sectors spending much of his early career at Drexel, Burnham, Lambert, where he gained the majority of his experience.

7. Drexel Burnham Lambert went bankrupt and forced him out of the next

In 1990, the company that Leon Black had worked with for 13 years filed for bankruptcy. This signaled a turning point in Black's professional career and it was time for him to do something different. In 1990 Leon didn't let any grass grow under his feet. He got together with colleagues Marc Rowan and Joshua Harris and the three of them founded a new company called Apollo Global Management. Drexel served as the CEO and chairman of the company and the three men all became billionaires from their venture.

8. Black is on several prestigious Forbes lists

Leon Black has received multiple public acknowledgments for his successful career in business. He is listed on the Forbes 400 list as number 63 for 2019. He is #252 on teh list of top Billionaires for 2019. He also receives a score of 8 on their scale of 1-10 for being a self-made billionaire and a score of 3 for philanthropy. He is listed as a self-made billionaire in the industry of investment and finance.

9. Leon has an extensive art collection

Leon Black's love of art is no big secret. He is so passionate about his art collection that he once spent $120 million to own one of teh Edvarch Much paintings in the four versions of "The Scream" painting. He made this valuable acquisition in 2012. He understands the value of art as an asset and that's why he's not concerned with dropping tens of millions on a single painting because this is an investment that will definitely hold its value, but there's a lot more to it than that. He loves his collection and it's one of his greatest passions in life.

10. He took Apollo public and regrets it

Leon Black and his partners took their Apollo firm public, opening shares for purchase to raise funds within the last decade. The main reason that he had regrets is that the public market lacks the awareness of how firms such as Apollo operate. The company went public in March of 2011. Since that time the company's stock has gone up 69.4 percent. According to Black, the company is only trading at half of where they need to be because of the lack of understanding. He still maintains a 23% stake of ownership in the company.

11. He is a family man

Billionaire Leon Black has been busy with his career, but not so occupied with work that he didn't take time out to marry and have a family. He married his wife Debra, and the couple has four children together. They have made their home in the state of New York.

12. He's had his share of struggles

Money isn't something that Leon Black has had to worry about because he has enough to last him several lifetimes. He has a problem that money cannot always fix. His wife Debra was diagnosed with melanoma in 2007. In response to this, Leon co-founded the Melanoma Research Alliance with his wife. The alliance has grown to become the largest private funder in teh field of melanoma research in the entire world. It has donated over $79 million in funding to obtain a better understanding and knowledge of the disease.

13. Black is heavily involved in the community

Leon Black takes an active interest in his local community, and he not only makes financial donations, but he also gives of his time. He co-chairs the Museum of Modern Art, he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he's a trustee of Mount Sinai Hospital and the Asia Society. He is also a member of the board of Faster Cures as well as serving the Port Authority Task Force. He cares about his local community and is committed to sharing his time with organizations that benefit from his wisdom and advisement on running their operations.

14.Leon and Debra Black are philanthropists

The Blacks are both avid art collectors who share this passion. They support several worthy causes and organizations. They have made donations of support to a variety of medical, cultural and scholastic institutions. Debra is not only the sister of a successful businessman she is also a professional in her own right as a Broadway producer. Leon and Debra Black give to charities that they believe in and they're doing their part to help make the world a better place for us all.

15. Leon Black was implicated with child-rapist Jeffrey Epstein

The closest that Leon Black has come to the scandal from what we were able to tell, is that he was associated in business with the late Jeffrey Epstein. Jeffrey Epstein was a member of the Leon Black Family Foundation. This was all that the media and investigators needed to know to also investigate some aspects of Mr. Black's life. His name was found in Epstein's little black book of contacts. It was further reported in The New Yorker that Black had used Jeffery Epstein as an intermediary when he made a donation of $5.5 million dollars to MIT Media Lab, and that he had attended meetings at the home of Epstein and also appointed him to the board of the Leon Black Foundation.

16. Black asked Epstein to resign prior to charges being filed

In response to allegations that Leon Black had extensive involvement with Jeffrey Epstein, Mr. Black was upfront about their relationship. Epstein had served on the Leon Black Foundation as one of the original trustees of the Foundation. Black claims that he had asked Mr. Epstein for his resignation in 2007 and that he was not convicted of solicitation of prostitution until 2008. The media had originally posed that Epstein served on the board through 2012 but Leon Black cleared up that misunderstanding. Not everyone who had business dealings with Mr. Epstein was guilty of the same crimes but anyone who associated with him was immediately suspects. Leon Black's request for his resignation at the first allegations of sexual deviance serves as evidence that he's not that kind of person and that he was not willing to associate with a person who was believed to commit such atrocities.

17. He owns several television stations

Leon Black and his senior partner David Sambur have invested in a group of local television stations. The pair now own a total of 29 stations which extend from Spokane, Washington to Boston, Massachusetts. There are rumors that they plan to add more to their collection under the Apollo umbrella. When asked if this was for political purposes and to gain leverage a source at Apollo insisted that the stations will remain nonpartisan and that the company is only interested in the financial aspects of the business and are not interested in gaining any kind of political influence through the acquisitions.

19. Black is getting more involved in the media business these days

Apollo has been buying up television stations left and right, and they've spent billions to accomplish the task. They've also made deals to acquire television stations throughout the nation to give the Sinclair Broadcast Group and Fox Television a run for their money. In addition to this, Apollo has also acquired three newspapers along with 3 radio stations within the state of Ohio. If the company hadn't already issued the statement that they were not becoming active in politics, one might wonder.

20. Leon Black is doing well these days

The multi-billionaire has enough money and assets to live several lifetimes in the lap of luxury. His wife Debra has survived her bout with melanoma, adn the family lives in a Southhampton, New York home that is valued at $43 million. He acquired a fine art book publisher called Phaidon Press in 2012 which was purchased free and clear of Apollo.Leon Black has had his share of struggles and some very bad times in his life, particularly when his father committed suicide in 1975, the suspected response to allegations of wrongdoing in business deals involving his company UnitedBrands. He went on to attend college and graduate from some of the most prestigious institutions in the United States, then go out and build a successful career for himself at Drexel, learn some very important things about investment and equities, then establish his own company with partners. Black has built a fortune and has raised a wonderful family and with all of the ups and downs he's experienced in life, he's truly built a wonderful life and has much to be thankful for.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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