food industry executive, art collector
Birthplace: Portland, Ore.
Founder of Norton Simon Inc., a conglomerate of consumer products companies, Simon amassed a huge fortune that he invested in artworks. His career began when he bought a bankrupt orange juice company and turned it around, eventually selling it to Hunt Brothers Packing. To keep tabs on his former company, he bought up Hunt stock, eventually gaining control in 1943, and becoming chairman a year later. He formed an international conglomerate with Hunt Food and Industries as its cornerstone, and ran it until he retired in 1969 to devote himself to collecting art. By the time of his death, his collection included some 12,000 paintings from artists such as Picasso, Gaugin, Matisse, Pissaro, and Raphael, as well as East Asian sculpture, and tapestries. In 1965, with the Los Angeles County Museum, he helped finance a new museum to house his collection, but by 1974 he had moved the collection to the Pasadena Art Museum. He bought the Pasadena museum in 1978, and renamed it the Norton Simon Museum.Died: 6/2/1993