Widely regarded as the wealthiest man in the American entertainment industry, the ‘Boy from Brooklyn’ turned millionaire by the time he was 25. After dropping out of the University of Texas, Geffen took a job at the William Morris Talent Agency and soon became a music agent. He cofounded Asylum Records in 1970 where he cultivated his knack for spotting new talent and emerging trends in the entertainment industry.
Asylum became one of the most sensational success stories in the music business. It signed the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and Tom Waits. Even Bob Dylan released two of his albums on Asylum. When Geffen sold Asylum Records to Warner Bros. in 1975 for $7 million, it was one of the largest music deals at that time. After an absence of almost four years that was actuated by a mistaken diagnosis of cancer, Geffen returned to his beloved music industry with a bang and founded Geffen Records in 1980. After the conclusion of a six-year contract, he sold his recording label to the Music Corporation of America for $6.13 million plus $50 million in stock options.
Through the Geffen Film Company, Geffen produced dark-tinged comedies such as (the 1986 version of) Little Shop of Horrors, Risky Business and Beetlejuice. Geffen was the Broadway backer for the musicals Dreamgirls and Cats. In 1994, Geffen co-founded the DreamWorks SKG studio with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. In 2008, Geffen left DreamWorks.
Geffen, who is single and openly gay, is also a noted art collector.
He owns one of the finest collections of postwar American art in the world that include valuable pieces by Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Of late, Geffen has enhanced his reputation as a prominent philanthropist. In 2002, the School of Medicine at the UCLA became the David Geffen School of Medicine after he donated $200 million; the largest gift in the history of the university.
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