Adolph Alfred Taubman , a Michigan philanthropist and an American real estate developer who today is remembered as the first to pioneer the idea of a modern shopping mall concept, has passed on at 91.
The Pontiac native, Taubman, who in his lifetime became one of Michigan’s most important donors to universities, Museums and hospitals, died Friday night at his home in Bloomfield Hills of a heart attack, according to son Robert S. Taubman, president and CEO of Taubman Centers, Inc.
Taubman studied architecture at the University of Michigan and was also a member of Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity and Lawrence Technological University, however, he graduated from none. He always pondered where working class families moving to suburbia would shop. “Demographically, I looked at the numbers, and as far as I was concerned we couldn’t miss. And we didn’t,” he said. Taubman picked upscale zones for luxurious malls, offering wellsprings and prestigious anchor stores like Neiman Marcus.
Taubman’s over six decades of diligence in work and professionalism paid off, judging from his building of some of America’s best shopping centers, one of which is the Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey which continues to be positioned among the most productive malls in the country, and his fortune of early years which Forbes magazine evaluated at $2 billion.
Taubman continued to commit his business life to understanding the particulars of retail–His first project being a freestanding bridal shop in Detroit. With this, he laid a good modern day foundation of how a huge number of Americans live their lives today.
However, the late philanthropist business life was not always smooth sailing. In 2001, he was convicted for contriving with Anthony Tennant, previous chairman of Christie’s International, to alter the commissions charged by the auction titans. Prosecutors alleged that merchants were bilked of as much as $400 million in commissions. Fined with $7.5 million, Taubman spent about a year in a low-security jail in Rochester, Minnesota. Yet he maintained his innocence of the scandal by revealing the plea bargain granted his chief executive, Diana Brooks, in which she admitted guilt but was rather given six months’ house arrest instead of a jail sentence.
“I had lost a chunk of my life, my good name and around 27 pounds,” he recalled in his book, saying he was forced to take the fall for others.
Taubman’s son, Robert Taubman, who serves as the chairman, president and chief executive officer of the Taubman Company discharged a statement to the company’s workers in the interest of the family on Friday evening. The letter read:
“My father passed away this evening here in Bloomfield Hills. This company and all that you stand for were among the greatest joys of his life. Just last month he was in Puerto Rico to celebrate with us the grand opening of the Mall at San Juan. He was so proud of what this wonderful company he founded 65 years ago has accomplished.
Tonight, after dinner in his home, a heart attack took him from us, ending what was a full, extraordinary life that touched so many people in so many wonderful ways around the world. Right now it is difficult for me to express our sadness. We will be informing you of our memorial plans shortly.
He continued in the letter: One thing that will never be taken from us is Alfred Taubman’s vision that will continue to guide and inspire us. Our family thanks you for all your kind thoughts and support through this very difficult time.”
What’s for sure is– Alfred Taubman will always be remembered not just for his achievements but for his kind generosity and impact on the society today.
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