December 1, 2022

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Fayez Sarofim, Buffett-Style Investor and Art Collector, Dies at 93

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Fayez Sarofim, an Egyptian immigrant who created a effective financial investment company with an technique related to Warren Buffett’s, died in Houston on Saturday at age 93.

Sarofim, who became a billionaire, experienced as good an eye for art as he did for stocks. About nearly 60 several years, he amassed a large, museum-high quality assortment which includes will work by John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and a wide variety of abstract expressionists these kinds of as Robert Motherwell and Willem de Kooning. It is 1 of the greatest privately held collections in the U.S.

Sarofim began his collection in the 1960s and kept it hidden from the general public right until an exhibition past 12 months at the Houston Museum of Wonderful Arts, of which he was a main benefactor. In asserting the exhibition, the museum claimed the “scope, scale, and quality” of the Sarofim selection created it “a rarity” amongst these held privately.

A person of Houston’s wealthiest adult men and a longtime pillar of the city’s business and cultural group, Sarofim launched Fayez Sarofim & Co. in Houston in 1958 and remained its chairman and co-chief expense officer right up until his death. That amazing operate rarely has been matched in the investment business.

He was recognized as “the sphinx” for this Egyptian history and for his minimal but very well-selected public remarks.  

On its web page, the firm declares: “We are entrepreneurs of enterprises instead than traders of inventory.” That Buffett-esque philosophy was reflected in Sarofim’s penchant for proudly owning blue-chip businesses these kinds of as Coca-Cola (ticker: KO), Philip Morris,

Procter & Gamble

(PG), and

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) for a long time, beginning in the 1960s.

The organization shifted to primary technological innovation franchises this kind of as

Microsoft

(MSFT),

Apple

(AAPL), and

Amazon.com

(AMZN) in the previous 10 a long time.

A good chunk of Sarofim’s prosperity came from investments he produced alongside customers in companies this kind of as Philip Morris—now

Altria

(MO) — and

Philip Morris International

(PM) and Coke.

He not often gave interviews, and one particular of his handful of in the earlier decade was with Barron’s in 2013, when he mirrored on his long vocation and financial investment philosophy. “It usually takes a overseas-born human being to recognize the United States, and the skill of the American people today to adapt,” Sarofim reported more than lunch with this reporter at the wood-paneled Coronado Club in  Houston.

Experiencing a cigar and an espresso, he stated his dislike for investing. “Nervous strength is a excellent destroyer of wealth,” he explained.

At that time, he desired to continue on performing. “I’m like Buffett,” he said. “Retirement is not in my vocabulary.”

The firm’s offices in downtown Houston experienced hundreds of paintings from his collection on the partitions. In his individual business office, Sarofim hung one of his most important operates, a little El Greco masterpiece from the late 16th century, The Crucifixion, a single of the couple is effective by the artist in private fingers.

Fayez Sarofim & Co. now manages $32.9 billion. Most of the firm’s income is run for institutional investors and superior-net-worth purchasers. The firm’s main retail automobile is the $2.2 billion BNY Mellon Appreciation fund (DGAGX).

The mutual fund’s premier holdings are Microsoft, Apple,

Alphabet

(GOOGL), Amazon.com,

Chevron

(CVX), and Visa (V). Reflecting Sarofim’s obtain-and-maintain strategy, the annual turnover ratio, at 4%, is among the the lowest in the fund industry. The fund is in advance of the S&P 500 above the previous 3 and five a long time, but behind the index throughout the earlier 10 yrs.

Of his penchant for fantastic franchises, Sarofim advised Barron’s: “People often glance for the needle in the haystack. Why not invest in the haystack?”

Sarofim’s patriotism reflected his only-in-America achievements tale. “Here’s an Egyptian who arrived right here with very little, went to Harvard Business School, and made a fortune in Houston. Not New York, Houston,” Byron Wien, vice chairman of Blackstone Advisory Partners, informed Barron’s for its 2013 profile of Sarofim and his agency. “He’s a heat and amazing particular person. He has a quality that is so crucial in business, which is to make you feel critical.”

Sarofim explained to Barron’s that Houstonians called him a fly by night time after he opened his company in 1958. At that time, there have been few unbiased equity administration corporations, allow by itself 1 operate by a 30-12 months-aged Egyptian immigrant with no genuine monitor record. The financial investment business then was dominated by New York banks and Boston companies this kind of as Loomis Sayles and Scudder Stevens & Clark.

Sarofim’s fortunes turned in the early 1960s, when he married Louisa Stude, the adopted daughter of Herman Brown, a founder of the

Brown & Root

design firm. At that time, Brown & Root experienced shut ties to the most strong person in Texas, Vice President Lyndon Johnson, a connection in depth in Robert Caro’s biographies of LBJ.

The Brown spouse and children was well linked in Houston, and Sarofim quickly was managing money for the Rice College endowment, still a customer of the firm. Sarofim had 3 marriages and two messy divorces that had been chronicled in the Houston press. He married Susan Krohn, his 3rd spouse, in 2015.

Sarofim’s son, Christopher Sarofim, is vice chairman of the business, which has quite a few extensive-tenured expenditure administrators. The business programs to keep on being privately held by the Sarofim relatives and employees.

Sarofim also was section of a group that introduced a professional football staff, the Houston Texans, back again to the metropolis in 2002 immediately after the Oilers still left city for Tennessee.  

That investment decision, which he jokingly identified as a “civic duty,” has labored out very well, with the group valued at $3.7 billion, in accordance to Forbes. The group paid out $500 million for the franchise rights.

Sarofim’s preferred sport was tennis, and he sponsored the U.S. men’s clay courts championships in April in River Oaks, the tony Houston neighborhood where he lived.

Write to Andrew Bary at [email protected]

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