Adolf Alfred Taubman was an American businessman and philanthropist who is credited with inventing the contemporary retail mall. He pioneered the notion of the shopping mall, which is now a global trend. His brilliance and honesty influenced the development of retail malls all around the world. Along with his own life, his visionary vision impacted many others; his is the narrative of a man who ascended from rags to riches. He was born into a low-income immigrant household and began working alongside his education at a young age. During his architectural training, he honed his acute sense of design and space. He started off as a tiny real estate development company, but thanks to his knowledge of merchandising and retailing, he grew into a shopping mall magnate with a multibillion-dollar empire. He used his concepts to create amazing retail establishments, hotels, enclosed malls, and shopping centers all around the world. He was a leading philanthropist who donated enormous sums of money for different health, education, and art projects in addition to being a successful businessman. His substantial contributions aided in the funding of medical research and the provision of education to a number of underserved groups in society. He was a man who put in a lot of effort into his profession, and his life story is an example to everyone.
Childhood and Early Life
Philip Taubman, a fruit farmer for the Wilson Foundry Company, and his wife, Fannie Taubman, had him on January 31, 1924 in Pontiac, Michigan. His mother was a second cousin of his father’s.
He was one of four brothers and sisters. Goldye Taubman was his sister, while Samuel Taubman and Lester Taubman were his brothers.
His parents were Jewish immigrants from Biaystok, Poland, who came to the United States. They were devastated by the Great Depression of the 1930s, and they lost everything.
He began working at a department store after school when he was eleven years old. He went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor after graduating from high school.
His academic studies were interrupted when World War II broke out, and he enlisted in the military to serve his nation. He enrolled in the Army and served in the Pacific theater with the Thirteenth Air Force.
He returned to university after the war to continue his art and architectural studies. He also worked a variety of jobs to supplement his income. In his third year, he was transferred to Lawrence University, where he took night studies while working at an architectural business during the day.
Career of A. Alfred Taubman
He founded the Taubman Company, a real estate development firm, in 1950. His first project was to build a standalone bridal shop in Detroit, and the business quickly grew, and they began working on larger retail and hotel projects.
The company built two strip shopping malls in Michigan in the mid-1950s. Arborland Center, the company’s first significant shopping center project, began construction in Michigan in 1959. It first opened its doors in 1961, and the corporation has since proceeded to create high-end shopping centers.
He purchased the A&W Restaurants franchise from United Brands in 1982. He took over Sotheby’s, an international auction company, in 1983 to free it from the shackles of losses.
His company, Sotheby’s, was accused of price rigging with rival auction house Christie’s in the early 2000s, and he was sentenced to ten months in prison for anti-trust breaches. In 2003, he was freed.
During his lifetime, he sat on the boards of directors of several important companies, including United Brands, Getty Oil Company, Manufacturers Bank of Detroit, Chase Manhattan Bank, and R.H. Macy Company.
‘Threshold Resistance: The Extraordinary Career of a Luxury Retailing Pioneer,’ his autobiography, debuted on the New York Times Best Seller List in 2007.
Achievements & Awards
For two decades, he was listed among Forbes’ 400 wealthiest Americans.
University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Lawrence Technological University, Michigan State University, Northern Michigan University, Ferris State University, and the College for Creative Studies all bestowed honorary degrees on him.
He was the recipient of numerous honors and citations, including the ‘Urban Land Institute Lifetime Achievement Award,’ the ‘Detroit Institute of Arts Lifetime Service Award,’ the ‘Harvard Business School Club of Detroit Business Statesman Award,’ and the ‘Detroit News Michiganian of the Year’ award.
Personal History and Legacy
Reva Kolodney, his undergraduate sweetheart, he married in 1948. Gayle Taubman, Robert Taubman, and William Taubman are their three children. However, after 29 years of marriage, the pair separated in 1977.
He married Judith Mazor Rounick, Miss Israel 1962, in 1982. She was previously married to Herbert Rounick, a fabric manufacturer, and had two children with him: Christopher Rounick and Tiffany Rounick.
He died of a heart attack on April 17, 2015, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, at the age of 91.
He was a prominent benefactor who was involved in civic and cultural issues and made frequent contributions to arts, education, health care, and Jewish organizations.
He made significant financial contributions to American colleges and universities. He was the University of Michigan’s top benefactor and made substantial contributions to Michigan’s educational reforms.
He gave significant cash to the University of Michigan’s College of Architecture and Urban Planning in 1999, allowing the college to offer additional scholarships and launch new urban planning initiatives. A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning is presently the name of the college.
Estimated Net Worth
As of September 2013, Alfred Taubman was one of the most well-known names in the real estate industry, with a net worth of $2.7 billion dollars. One of his most significant accomplishments was the introduction to the globe of the concept of a “shopping mall.” The Mall at Short Hills was Alfred’s most well-known mall project. There has been no going back since, and he has routinely ranked among the ‘Richest Americans’ on the ‘Forbes’ magazine’s list for the past two decades.