the Aspen Skiing Company
|BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Sept. 25, 2004 - Marvin Davis, the former owner
of 20th Century Fox, the Pebble Beach Company, the Aspen Ski Company, and
the Beverly Hills Hotel, who was known in the oil and gas industry as "Mr.
Wildcatter," died earlier today. He was 79 years old.
He died peacefully at his home in the presence of his family.
Mr. Davis is survived by his loving, devoted wife of more than 53 years, Barbara, their five children, Patricia Ann Davis Raynes and her husband Marty, John Davis and his wife Jordan, Nancy Davis Rickel and her husband Kenneth, Gregg Davis and his wife Elena, and Dana Davis as well as by Mr. Davis' sister, Joan Chorney. The Davises have 14 grandchildren: Nicholas, Matthew, Ashley, Jack, Catherine, Jensen, Brandon, Alexander, Jason, Whitney, Chad, Harry, Julia, and Hudson.
Mr. Davis was a self-made entrepreneur who earned several fortunes-first as an oil and gas wildcatter and then through savvy investments in industries ranging from entertainment to resorts to real estate. He was also a major philanthropist, who, along with his wife Barbara, had been active for decades in raising funds for a variety of worthy causes, including the Children's Diabetes Foundation /The Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, in Denver, Colorado, which currently cares for more than 5,000 children from all over the world and has made it possible for countless mothers with diabetes to deliver healthy babies, (the center is the largest facility of it's kind devoted to care and research in pediatric diabetes); the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles; and the Nancy Davis Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis.
A disciplined dealmaker with impeccable market timing, he demonstrated an uncanny ability to recognize both the top and bottom of market cycles, and he was credited with being able to identify economic trends long before they became generally apparent.
Until the end, Mr. Davis remained a major figure in both the business and social scenes who enjoyed a well-deserved reputation as a lively storyteller.
Marvin Davis was born on August 31, 1925, in Newark, New Jersey. After growing up in New York City, he received a Bachelor of Science degree from New York University in 1947, and married the former Barbara Levine in 1951, the year she graduated from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. Over the years, they had five children.
After graduating from NYU, Mr. Davis joined his father in creating an oil and gas exploration business. Under his leadership, Davis Oil Company became one of the premier wildcat drilling operations in the country, buying up low-priced oil and gas leases in the Rocky Mountain region, then riding them through the boom times of the 1970s. The company, which is now known as Davis Petroleum Corp., also developed producing leases in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Texas. During the 1970s, only three other companies-multinational giants Shell, Amoco, and Exxon-drilled more exploratory wells in the United States. The company is still one of the most prolific exploration companies in the oil and gas industry today.
When asked about his success in the oil business, Mr. Davis used to like to quote his old friend H.L. Hunt: "H.L. once told me he who drills the most wells wins," Mr. Davis said.
In the 1980s, Mr. Davis and his family relocated from Denver to Beverly Hills, where he turned his deal-making skills to entertainment and real estate. In 1981, he bought 20th Century-Fox with financier Marc Rich in one of the first successful leveraged buyouts of the decade. Mr. Davis wound up buying out Mr. Rich's half of Fox in 1984, and sold the movie studio and film library to Rupert Murdoch in 1985.
In addition to the movie studio and film library, Fox's assets included a number of other world class properties which Mr. Davis retained after the sale of the Fox studio to Mr. Murdoch. These properties included the Pebble Beach Company, the Northern California seaside resort with two luxury hotels, four world-class golf courses and the world famous 17-mile drive, the Aspen Skiing Company, which owned 200 miles of ski trails on three Colorado mountains (Breckenridge, SnowMass and Buttermilk), as well as the Little Nell luxury hotel, in addition to property in Century City, California, on which Mr. Davis built and twice sold the 20th Century Fox Plaza. An avid golfer, Mr. Davis sold Pebble Beach to Japanese investors for $841 million at the top of the market in 1990. Still, it remained one of his favorite acquisitions. "Oh, I loved every minute of it," Mr. Davis said of the years he owned the resort. "I never fall in love with any asset, but that one came the closest to it."
In addition to Pebble Beach, Mr. Davis bought, sold and/or operated such high-profile properties as the historic Beverly Hills Hotel; his other notable commercial office and retail properties included 181 West Madison, 515 North State Street, and the Marriott Hotel in Chicago; 75/101 Federal Street in Boston; Regency and Regency West in the Denver Technological Center; City Center in Denver; and Reston Town Center in Reston, Virginia.
John, a Harvard Business School graduate, now operates his own production companies, Davis Entertainment Company and Davis Entertainment Television.
Gregg is President of Davis Petroleum Corp., Davis Petroleum Pipeline, and Davis Offshore, the family's oil and gas companies.
Their daughters Patty, Nancy and Dana are involved in a wide variety of philanthropic and charitable activities.
Patty lives in New York with her husband and three children, and is an avid equestrian.
Nancy has been active over the years in supporting efforts to find a cure for multiple sclerosis. Diagnosed with MS herself, Nancy has spearheaded such events as the Race to Erase MS and founded the Nancy Davis Center Without Walls, which brings doctors from all over the world together to help find a cure.
Dana has been involved in many charities and has taught school for over 12 years.
Dana was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes while the Davises were living in Denver. From that point on, Barbara and Marvin Davis became deeply involved in medical issues. In 1977, they established the Children's Diabetes Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated solely to research of childhood diabetes and to providing the best possible clinical and education programs. The Foundation's mission is to raise funds to support programs at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised more than $70 million to support diabetes programs and research.
In Denver, the Davises regularly hosted what they called the Carousel Ball in support of the diabetes facility, and it became at the time the largest single-event fundraiser in the country. After relocating to Beverly Hills, the Davises hosted a glittering biennial fundraiser known as "The Carousel of Hope," which attracted the entertainment industry's top stars as well as the business community's principal leaders, and became a top event on the city's social calendar.
Despite all his business accomplishments, Marvin Davis considered his greatest legacy to be his loving wife of 53 years, his five children, and 14 grandchildren.
Memorial services will be private.
Donations in Mr. Davis's memory may be made to the Children's Diabetes
Foundation/Barbara Davis Center at 777 Grant Street, Suite 302, Denver, CO 80203.
Sitrick And Company
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