born February 21, 1943
David Geffen is an American business magnate - founder of Asylum Records, Geffen Records. DGC Records and DreamWorks SKG - producer, film studio executive, and a prominent philanthropist.
David Geffen - The Dyslexic Billionaire
David Lawrence Geffen was born in Borough Park, Brooklyn, New York, to Abraham Geffen and Batya Volovskaya, Jewish immigrants with roots in the former Russian empire who met in British-mandated Palestine and then moved to the United States.
Geffen graduated from Brooklyn's New Utrecht High School in 1960, barely passing with a 66 percent average. He attended the University of Texas, then Brooklyn College, then Santa Monica College, but invariably dropped out after a semester or two...
Geffen himself attributed his challenges in school to dyslexia (characterized by difficulty with learning to read fluently and with accurate comprehension despite normal or above-average intelligence), which, ironically, did not prevent him from becoming one of the richest Americans.
He began his career at the William Morris Agency (WMA), where he first worked in the mailroom, and later becoming a talent agent.
To get the WMA job, he needed a college degree he did not have. In his job application he mentioned that he had graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Working in the mailroom, he was able to intercept a letter from UCLA to WMA stating that he had not been able to complete the studies, and doctored the letter to say he had been awarded a degree.
Geffen founded Asylum Records in 1970, after being unable to get Jackson Browne a record deal anywhere. The name Asylum was chosen because Geffen and Co would sign up artists who were denied in by record studios; among their clients were such musicians as the Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Judee Sill, and J.D. Souther.
In 1977 Geffen, by then - vice-president of Warner Brothers, retired after being erroneously informed that he had cancer. It was only three long years later, that a new medical diagnosis revealed the error!
He returned to the entertainment industry with renewed vigor, immediately founding Geffen Records, which immediately gained ground by signing up several very talented performers, including Donna Summer! A few years later he founded the Geffen Film Company, which produced such classics as Little Shop of Horrors, Risky Business and Beetlejuice, as well as backed hit Broadway musicals, including Dreamgirls and Cats. And in 1994, Geffen, together with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, co-founded the brilliant DreamWorks SKG studio.
Geffen has an estimated net worth of $6 billion,and is one of the richest people in the United States. He owns the Pelorus superyach, bought from the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich for $300 million, and a collection of priceless works of arts, once called "the best representation of post-war American art". He sold three paintings by Jasper Johns, De Kooning and Jackson Pollock for a combined sum of more than $250 million.
The magnate is openly gay. In 2007, Out magazine ranked Geffen first in its list of the fifty "Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America."
Thanks to his wealth, he has become a noted philanthropist, donating millions upon millions to medical research.
"David Geffen". Forbes
Tom King, The Operator: David Geffen Builds, Buys, and Sells the New Hollywood, p. 12, Broadway Books (New York 2001).
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