Matthew Bucksbaum

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Matthew Bucksbaum
Born (1926-02-20)February 20, 1926
Marshalltown, Iowa, U.S.
Died November 24, 2013(2013-11-24) (aged 87)
Cause of death complications from Alzheimer's disease
Ethnicity Jewish
Education B.A. University of Iowa
Occupation Real estate developer
Known for Co-founder of General Growth Properties
Net worth $1.2 billion (2011)
Spouse(s) Carolyn Swartz
Children John Bucksbaum
Ann Bucksbaum
Parent(s) Ida Gervich
Louis Bucksbaum
Family Martin Bucksbaum (brother) Maurice (brother)
Military career
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch US Army Air Corps Hap Arnold Wings.svg United States Army Air Forces
Years of service World War II
Unit Fifth Air Force - Emblem (World War II).svg Fifth Air Forces
Insignia signal.svgCryptographer
Battles/wars Southwest Pacific Area
New Guinea campaign

Matthew Bucksbaum (February 20, 1926 – November 24, 2013) was an American businessman and philanthropist. Matthew and his brothers Martin and Maurice co-founded General Growth Properties (NYSEGGP).[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Bucksbaum was born to a Jewish family[2] in Marshalltown, Iowa, to Ida (Gervich) and Louis Bucksbaum. During World War II, he served in the Army Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific Theatre as a cryptographer based in New Guinea.[3] He graduated from the University of Iowa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 1949, where he was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and the Order of Artus.[4][5] His family owned a chain of three grocery stores.[1]


In 1954, Bucksbaum and his brother Martin borrowed $1.2 million and built the first shopping center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, anchored by a fourth family grocery store.[1][6] They expanded into enclosed malls which mirrored the continued movement to the suburbs seen in the 1960s. By 1964, their company - then named General Management - owned five malls anchored by the Younkers department store.[1] In 1972, the company became publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the name General Growth Properties (NYSEGGP) and became the second-largest owner, developer, and manager of regional shopping malls in the country.[6][7] Bucksbaum served as its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer[7] and under his tenure, he formed two Real estate investment trusts and expanded the company's portfolio of malls and shopping centers via more than $36 billion in acquisitions.[5] In 1984, General Growth sold 19 malls for $800 million to Equitable Real Estate, which was deemed the “nation’s largest single asset real estate transaction” to date.[6] In 1995, his brother Martin died and he re-located the company to Chicago.[6] In 2004, General Growth purchased The Rouse Company for $14.2 billion.[6] By 2007, General Growth was the second-largest REIT owning 194 malls with over 200 million square feet in 44 states.[6] In 2008, General Growth filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after the collapse of the stock market.[6]


He sat on the Board of Trustees of the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.[5] He was a President of the Temple B'nai Jeshurun and the Polk County Mental Health Association, and a Director of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, all in Des Moines, Iowa.[5] He donated US$42 million to the University of Chicago for the creation of the Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence.[7]

Personal life[edit]

He was married to Carolyn (Swartz) Bucksbaum, who was also Jewish.[3][7][8] They had two children.[4] Their son, John Bucksbaum, served as CEO of General Growth Properties from 1999 to 2008, and as its Chairman from 2007 to 2010.[6] Their daughter Ann Louise Bucksbaum is married to journalist Thomas Friedman.[9] They resided in Chicago.[4] As of March 2011, he was worth an estimated US$1.2 billion.[4]


He died in Chicago of complications from Alzheimer's disease on November 24, 2013.[1]