Bruce Karsh

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Bruce A. Karsh
Born (1955-10-10) October 10, 1955 (age 59)
Nationality United States
Ethnicity Jewish
Alma mater Duke University (B.A.)
University of Virginia (J.D.)
Occupation Co-Chairman and CIO, Oaktree Capital Management
Chairman, Tribune Media
Net worth Increase US$ 1.65 billion (March 2013)[1]
Religion Judaism[2]

Bruce Karsh (born October 10, 1955) is an American lawyer and investor. In the early 1980s he was an appellate clerk to current Supreme Court of the United States justice Anthony M. Kennedy, and later worked at O'Melveny & Myers, Sun Life Insurance Company and the TCW Group. He co-founded Oaktree Capital Management in 1995, later becoming the firm's President and in the process becoming a billionaire. As of March 2013 according to Forbes magazine he has a net worth of $1.65 billion [3] Karsh is the chairman of Tribune Media.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Bruce A. Karsh was born in 1955 to a Jewish family,[2] the son of David H. Karsh, and Roberta “Bobby” Karsh.[5][6][7] In 1974, he graduated from Ladue Horton Watkins High School.[citation needed] In 1977, Karsh earned an A.B. degree in economics from Duke University[8] where he graduated summa cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.[9] In 1980[10] he earned a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he received the academic award Order of the Coif.[8] While at the University of Virginia he served as notes editor for the Virginia Law Review.[11]


Early years (1980-1995)[edit]

Following law school Karsh served as an appellate clerk to current Supreme Court of the United States justice Anthony M. Kennedy. He went on to work as an attorney with the law firm O'Melveny & Myers,[9] then served as an assistant to billionaire Eli Broad,[12] who was then the chairman of Sun Life Insurance Company and SunAmerica.[11]

In 1987, Broad's insurance company became a client of TCW Group.[12] Shortly thereafter, Karsh was hired by Howard Marks to manage distressed debt at TCW. TCW's first distressed debt fund was started in 1988. He served as Managing Director of TCW and its affiliate TCW Asset Management Company as well, and helped liquidating the Special Credits Funds under agreements with TCW.[11]

While still working at TCW in 1991, he became an independent director of Littlefuse, which he remained until 2007.[11]

Oaktree (1995-present)[edit]

In April 1995, Karsh, Howard Marks, and four other employees at TCW left their firm to found Oaktree Capital Management. Karsh became an active firm manager and a portfolio manager for Oaktree's distressed debt funds,[9] as well as head of the Distressed Debt Team. He also managed a substantial number of Oaktree's closed-end funds, "overseeing the investment of all of its private investment strategies and the management of the real estate group."[11]

In 1997 he also became director of Armstrong Wood Products, a position he retains. In 2007, he became an independent director of LBI Media. In 2009 he became director of Charter Communications and CCO Holdings as well.[11]

According to Ken Moelis, the CEO of Moelis & Co., Howard Marks is the public face of Oaktree while Karsh is the "'quiet secret' behind the scenes." Moelis has said that “If you say the name Bruce, people know you’re talking about Bruce Springsteen. There’s one Bruce in music and one Bruce in distressed. He’s just a solid guy who does his homework and thinks through timing.”[12]

Karsh Family Foundation[edit]

In 1998 Karsh and his wife started the charitable organization the Karsh Family Foundation. Among their recipients have been Teach for America and KIPP.[13] As of 2012, Karsh is on the board of the The Painted Turtle, a non-profit organization that operates a camp for child with life-threatening diseases in Los Angeles.[8] The Foundation also helped fund a renovation project at the University of Virginia Law School, quoted to be completed in the fall of 2012.[10]

The Karshes have given $85 million for undergraduate financial aid at Duke University. This included $12 million in 2005, $20 million in 2008,[14] and $50 million in 2011 ($30 million for U.S. students and $20 million for international students).[15][16]

Karsh joined the Board of Directors for Duke University’s investment management company (DUMAC)[9][16] in 2002, and in July 2005 was appointed Chairman. He was elected to the Duke University Board of Trustees in 2003.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Karsh is married to Martha Karsh, an attorney and co-founder of Clark & Karsh, an architecture firm.[13] They live in Beverly Hills, California and have three children:[8] Katie, Jeffrey, and Michael.[6] They are members of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple.[2]


  1. ^ Forbes: The World's Billionaires: Bruce Karsh March 2013
  2. ^ a b c Wilshire Boulevard Temple: "Exclusive Los Angeles Premiere of “Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story” November 17, 2010
  3. ^ Forbes Billionaires
  4. ^
  5. ^ "#843 Bruce Karsh". Forbes. 5 March 2008. 
  6. ^ a b The St. Louis Jewish Light: David H. Karsh August 15, 2012
  7. ^ Jewish In St. Louis: "Gala to Pay Tribute to Rock Legends…and RJA Legends" May 17, 2009
  8. ^ a b c d e "Duke Trustees: Bruce Karsh". Duke University. July 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Bruce Karsh Profile". Oaktree Capital. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  10. ^ a b "Law School Renovations Aim to Improve Student, Visitor Experience". Virginia Law. March 1, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Bruce Karsh: Profile". Business Week. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  12. ^ a b c Wee, Gillian (June 17, 2011). "Biggest Distressed Debt Investor Marks Europe With 19% Returns". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  13. ^ a b "Martha L. Karsh, Trustee, Karsh Family Foundation; Founder, Clark & Karsh, Inc.". Commonsense Media. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  14. ^ Burness, John (January 30, 2008). "Bruce and Martha Karsh to Give $20 Million to Support International Students". Duke News (Duke University). Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  15. ^ "Bruce Karsh". Forbes. March 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  16. ^ a b "Bruce and Martha Karsh Give $50 Million". Duke University. December 5, 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 

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