October 31, 2002
Investment Banking Pioneer and L.A. Opera Chairman
Leonard I. Green, founding partner of the West Coast's largest leveraged buyout firm and board chairman of the Los Angeles Opera, died on Oct. 25 following complications from heart surgery in Venice, Italy, where he was vacationing. He was 68.
Green, who co-founded the New York investment banking partnership Gibbons, Green, van Amerongen in 1969, became known as a pioneer in management-led, nonhostile leveraged buyouts, called "the friendly takeover."
In 1980, Green opened the firm's California office. He left in 1989 to open Leonard Green & Partners, which acquired Big 5 Sporting Goods, Carr-Gottstein Foods Co. and Thrifty Corp.
Green, an opera aficionado, became a founding director of the Los Angeles Opera in 1986. He served as its president and chief executive from 1998-2001, when he was elected chairman. During this period, donations doubled from $8.5 million in 1998, when he recruited tenor Placido Domingo as artistic director, to $17.7 million this year. Green was also on the board of the Music Center of Los Angeles County.
The Philadelphia native earned his bachelor's degree in economics from Cornell University in 1955, an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Graduate School in 1956 and a law degree from Loyola University in Chicago in 1965.
Green is survived by his daughter, Suzanne; his son, Steven; and a grandson.