Who is Leon Black?
Leon David Black is the man behind Apollo Global Management. A figure that has left many scratching their heads after he continues to make headlines for investing in assets that seem downtrodden to most, yet he hasn’t disappointed with his results. Back in February, the company saw its lowest numbers in the last three years, yet they began purchasing back their shares with a robust plan in place of repurchasing more than $250 million back eventually. Black’s bold has definitely paid off since shares have gone up consistently and considerably in the third quarter of the year. He strongly believes that the current prices of shares are not indicative of the true strength of the company’s business model and the growth opportunities the firm offers in the long term. This sheer tenacity and confidence is enough to gain the admiration of many and the trust of their shareholders.
What about Apollo?
Apollo Global Management, LLC is an American private equity firm, co-founded in 1990 by Leon Black along with John Hannan, Craig Cogut, Arthur Bilger, Antony Ressler, Marc Rowan, Josh Harris and Michael Gross. The majority of them, worked together with Black in Drexel Burnham Lambert, the investment back. Apollo focuses in leveraged buyout transactions and buying distressed securities that involve corporate rearrangement, unusual situations, and industry partnerships. The firm is based out of in New York City, but it has offices in, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, London, Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Singapore, Hong Kong and Mumbai.
The fact that Apollo managed more than US$186.3 billion throughout its credit funds, real estate, private equity has made it one of the largest alternative investment management firms in the world as of August of 2016.
Novitex Enterprise Solutions, Norwegian Cruise Line, Caesars Entertainment Corporation, Claire’s, and CORE Media Group are some of the most popular companies currently owned by Apollo.
The company’s bold moves and excellent investments have not ceased to amaze.
Leon Black is the son of Eli M. Black, a respected Polish-born American businessman who controlled the United Brands Company. His mother was Shirley Lubell, an accomplished artist from whom he inherited his appreciation and love for collecting impressive pieces of art.
Black graduated from Dartmouth College with a BA in History and Philosophy in 1973 and with a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard University in 1975, the same year his father committed suicide.
For thirteen years starting in 1977, Black worked for Drexel Burnham Lambert as managing director, lead of the Mergers & Acquisitions Group, and co-lead of the Corporate Finance Department. It was in 1990 when he finally left and along with some of his co-workers from Drexel, co-founded Apollo.
Leon Black is currently married to Debra Ressler who is the sister of Anthony Ressler, one of his co-founders at Apollo. She is a Broadway producer and together they have four children.
Leon Black’s approach to philanthropy took a dramatic personal shift after his wife became a melanoma survivor. It was reported that he felt that his relationship with charity was a bit disengaged before, but the personal nature of the situation inspired the couple to become very active in their efforts to support the cause of cancer research. When Debra contracted melanoma, they donated $40 million to the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) over a four-year period, and she also became an active member of their board of directors. Stem cell research is another cause supported by Black’s efforts and donations. He is also a member of the board at FasterCures, an organization focused on enhancing the efficiency and speed in which cures are found by funding research, academic efforts and governmental entities dedicated to finding cures. Black also donates to a few Jewish organizations and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation that promoted interfaith dialogue.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Leon Black’s personality is his love for art. His mother who was an artist and his aunt who was a gallery owner probably had a lot to do with his respect and high regard for the arts. In 2012, Black was revealed to be the anonymous bidder who paid $120 million for one of the four copies of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. This was the highest price ever paid for a work of art at an auction.
In 2013, Black also bought Head of a Young Apostle, the work of Raphael for £29 million and it 2015 made headlines again for purchasing at auction a complete set of the Daniel Bomberg Babylonian Talmud for $9.3 million. This was another record-breaking purchase as it was the highest amount ever paid for any piece of Jewish ceremonial art.
For more information and articles about the legacy left behind by the men who built America, check out our entries at Patrick Dwyer Blog.