Birthday: January 31, 1924
Died At Age: 91
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Also Known As: Adolph Alfred Taubman
Born in: Pontiac
Famous as: Entrepreneur, Philanthropist
Real Estate Entrepreneurs
Spouse/Ex-: Judith (Mazor) Rounick, Reva Kolodney (1948-1977; divorced)
father: Philip Taubman
mother: Fannie Taubman
children: Gayle Taubman Kalisman, Robert S. Taubman, William S. Taubman
Died on: April 17, 2015
place of death: Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
education: University of Michigan
Adolf Alfred Taubman was an American entrepreneur and philanthropist, known for conceptualizing the modern shopping malls. He pioneered the concept of shopping mall, an emerging trend in the global arena. The combination of his brilliance and sincerity shaped the emergence of shopping centers around the world. His imaginative vision transformed many lives along with his own; his is the story of a man who rose from rags to riches. Born to a low class immigrant family, he started working at a young age alongside receiving his education. He developed his sophisticated sense of design and space during his architectural studies. He started from a small real estate development firm and through his insight in merchandising and retailing, he became a shopping mall magnate, with an enormous enterprise under his name which is worth billions of dollar. He incorporated his ideas to build incredible retail stores, hotels, enclosed malls and shopping centers all around the world. Apart from being a successful businessman, he was also a leading philanthropist who donated large sums of money for various health, education and art causes. His generous contributions supported various medical researches and helped in imparting education to several underprivileged sections of the society. He was a man of immense dedication towards his work and his life journey is an inspiration for everyone.
Early Life & Childhood
He was born on January 31, 1924 in Pontiac, Michigan to Philip Taubman, a fruit farmer in the Wilson Foundry Company and his wife, Fannie Taubman. His mother was his father’s second cousin.
He was one of the four siblings. He had a sister, Goldye Taubman and two brothers, Samuel Taubman and Lester Taubman.
His parents were Jewish immigrants, who arrived in U.S from Białystok, Poland. They were ghastly affected by the Depression of the 1930s and lost everything in it.
He started working at the age of eleven in a departmental store after school hours. After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
His studies at the university were interrupted by the breakout of World War II and he joined the military service to serve his country. He got enlisted in the Army and served with the Thirteenth Air Force in the Pacific theater.
After the war, he returned to the university to resume his studies of art and architecture. Alongside, he also took up a variety of jobs to cover his expenses. He was transferred to Lawrence University in his third year where he took night classes and used to work at an architectural firm during daytime.
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In 1950, he started his own real estate development company, the Taubman Company. His first project was designing a freestanding bridal shop in Detroit and the company soon flourished and they started working on larger retail projects and hotels.
In mid-1950s, the company developed two strip shopping centers in Michigan. In 1959, the company began the development of Arborland Center in Michigan, its first large shopping center project. It opened in 1961 and the company has continued to develop high-end shopping centers ever since.
In 1982, he bought the A&W Restaurants franchise from United Brands. In 1983, he took over the international auction house, Sotheby's, to revive it from the shackles of losses.
In early 2000s, his company Sotheby’s was accused of price fixing with rival auction house, Christie’s, and he was imprisoned for 10 months for anti-trust violations. He was released in 2003.
He had served on the board of directors of a number of major corporations, including United Brands, Getty Oil Company, Manufacturers Bank of Detroit, Chase Manhattan Bank, and R.H. Macy Company in his lifetime.
In 2007, he published his autobiography, ‘Threshold Resistance: The Extraordinary Career of a Luxury Retailing Pioneer’, which debuted on the New York Times Best Seller List.
Awards & Achievements
He was on the list of Forbes 400 Richest Americans for two decades.
He received honorary degrees from the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Lawrence Technological University, Michigan State University, Northern Michigan University, Ferris State University and the College for Creative Studies.
He had received many awards and citations, including the ‘Urban Land Institute Lifetime Achievement Award’, ‘Detroit Institute of Arts Lifetime Service Award’, ‘Harvard Business School Club of Detroit Business Statesman Award’ and the award for the ‘Detroit News Michiganian of the Year’.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1948, he married his college lover, Reva Kolodney. They were blessed with three children; Gayle Taubman, Robert Taubman and William Taubman. But the couple got divorced in 1977, after 29 years of their marriage.
In 1982, he married Judith Mazor Rounick, the Miss Israel of 1962. She was formerly married to Herbert Rounick, a cloth manufacturer with whom she had two children, Christopher Rounick and Tiffany Rounick.
He died of a heart attack on April 17, 2015, at the age of 91, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
He was a leading philanthropist and was active in civic and cultural affairs, and contributed towards arts, education, health care, and Jewish causes regularly.
He made major funding contributions to institutions of higher learning in the United States. He was the largest donor in the University of Michigan’s history and made significant contributions to educational reforms in Michigan.
In 1999, he provided major funding to the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, which enabled the college to offer new scholarships and develop new initiatives in urban planning. The college is now known as A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.
Alfred Taubman was one of the most significant faces of the real estate Industry and had a net worth of an estimated US $2.7 Billion, as of September 2013. One of his most path-breaking contributions was the introduction of the concept of a ‘Shopping mall’ to the world. Alfred’s famous mall project was ‘The Mall at Short Hills’. Since then there was no looking back, and he consistently found a place on the ‘Forbes’ magazine’s list of ‘Richest Americans’ consistently for two decades.