David Azrieli, Montreal developer with wide holdings in Israel, dies

TORONTO (JTA) — David Azrieli, a real estate developer with major holdings in Israel, including the three geometric towers in the middle of Tel Aviv, has died.

Azrieli, a billionaire philanthropist whose family’s foundation has given away an estimated $100 million, died near Montreal on Wednesday. He was 92.

He was the founder and controlling shareholder of the Israeli real estate developer Azrieli Group. Azrieli stepped down as company chairman last week amid failing health.

In Israel, his name was closely associated with three iconic Tel Aviv towers, in the shapes of a circle, triangle and square, which bear his name.

Known also as the “Mall Man from Montreal,” his company owns over a dozen shopping malls in Israel, including Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Center, as well as office building and subsidiaries in the energy, water and environment industries. The company also owns 20 percent of the credit card company Leumi Card and nearly 5 percent holdings in Bank Leumi Le Israel Ltd.

His net worth is estimated at $3 billion.

Born in Poland, Azrieli fled the Nazis at age 17. He went to Russia and arrived in Palestine in time to fight in Israel’s War of Independence. He studied architecture at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and moved to Canada in 1954.

His family foundation’s gifts focused mainly on education but also on architecture and design, Holocaust commemoration, scientific and medical research, and the arts.

 

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