Milton Petrie

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Milton Petrie
Born(1902-08-05)August 5, 1902
Salt Lake City, Utah, US
DiedNovember 6, 1994(1994-11-06) (aged 92)
Known forfounder of Petrie Stores
Spouse(s)Carroll McDaniel
ChildrenBernard Petrie
Marianne Petrie Miller
Patricia Petrie Hugenberg
Parent(s)Minnie Petrie
FamilyMatthew Miller (grandson)

Milton Petrie (August 5, 1902 – November 6, 1994) was an American retailer, investor and philanthropist. He made a fortune from a chain of retail stores and supplemented it through a series of investments in real estate and stocks. He was well known in New York City as a philanthropist who gave money to universities and cultural institutions and also to many individuals.

Early life and career[edit]

His parents were Russian Jewish immigrants who were running a pawn shop in Salt Lake City when he was born.[1] In 1927, he started a chain of hosiery stores, but it ultimately failed. He then built a large retail company called Petrie Stores, which operated over 1700 discount women's clothing stores under various names, Petries, Jean Nicole, Rave, Stuarts, Winklemans, Marianne's and G & G.[1] In 1977, his $10 million investment in a consortium organized by A. Alfred Taubman to buy the Irvine Company returned $100 million.[2][3] In 1987, he began to acquire shares in Toys "R" Us for less than a dollar per share. His stake grew to 38% percent of the company[4] and was worth $1.5 billion at the time of his death.[1]


Petrie was known for large contributions to educational and cultural institutions in New York. The Carroll and Milton Petrie European Sculpture Court at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was named in appreciation of his gift of $10 million to the museum.[5] In appreciation for his $1 million gift to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, his likeness is carved in the form of a corbel on the wall of the cathedral's south bell tower.[6] He also gave millions more to the Beth Israel Medical Center, United Jewish Appeal, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The Minnie Petrie Synagogue at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Manhattan is named after his mother.[7][8]

Petrie was also known for his gifts to ordinary individuals. He gave $20,000 a year to Marla Hanson, a model whose face was slashed in an attack instigated by a former landlord.[9] He was especially generous to police officers. He pledged $20,000 a year to the widow of Anthony Venditti, a New York City police detective who was killed in a 1986 shootout, as well as setting up trust funds for the college education of the detective's children.[10] He made the same gift to the widow of Louis Miller, a New York City police detective who was killed in 1987[11] and to Steven McDonald, a New York City police officer who was shot and paralyzed in 1987.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Petrie was married to Yetta Fridman with whom he had a son, Bernard Petrie.[13] In 1978, he married his fourth wife, a Baptist by upbringing from Greenville, South Carolina and three-times-married, Carroll McDaniel Portago Carey-Hughes Pistell Petrie.[3][14][15] She was the ex-wife of the Spanish race car driver Alfonso de Portago. At the time of Petrie's death, he was survived by his wife Carroll, his children by earlier marriages Bernard Petrie, Marianne Miller and Patricia Hugenberg and grandchildren Matthew Miller and Kurt Hugenberg.[16][17][18] Services were held at Temple Emanuel in New York City.[1] At his death, he left $300–400 million to establish the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation, which continued his philanthropy.[19]


  1. ^ a b c d Strom, Stephanie "Milton J. Petrie, Philanthropist, Is Dead at 92", New York Times November 8, 1994
  2. ^ Lindsey, Robert, "Taubman-Allen Group Is Winner Of Irvine as It Tops Mobil's Offer", New York Times, May 21, 1977, page 32
  3. ^ a b Curtis, Charlotte, "The Tireless Milton Petrie", New York Times, May 15, 1984, page C16
  4. ^ Fabrikant, Geraldine, "Market Place; At Petrie Stores, estate planning drove a final swap of stock", New York Times, December 6, 1994
  5. ^ Glueck, Grace, "$10 Million is Pledged for Met Sculpture Court", New York Times, August 7, 1987, pg C20
  6. ^ Madden, Stephen, "Upon This Rock . . .", Fortune Magazine, November 7, 1988
  7. ^ Dunlop, David W. From Abyssinian to Zion: A Guide to Manhattan's Houses of Worship Columbia University Press - retrieved August 31, 2013
  8. ^ New York Times: "Hebrew Union's Temple Gets a New-Style Ark" By GRACE GLUECK November 02, 1987
  9. ^ Martin, Douglas, "About New York; A Tale of Giving, With a Surprise For One Reader", New York Times, July 19, 1989
  10. ^ Associated Press, "Aid Pledge Given Widow of Officer, New York Times, February 1, 1986, page 32
  11. ^ Teltsch, Kathleen, "Retailer Assists Detective's Widow", New York Times, August 9, 1987, page 31
  12. ^ Brown, Patricia Leigh, "A House Becomes a Workable Home For a Disabled Officer and His Family", New York Times, December 1987, page A1
  13. ^ New York Times: "Bernard Petrie Obituary" September 6, 2007
  14. ^ Hays, Charlotte The Fortune Hunters: Dazzling Women and the Men They Married St. Martin's Press 2007
  15. ^ Forbes: "For Love or Money" by Susan Adams July 7, 2007
  16. ^ Moin, David, and Tosh, Mark, "Milton Petrie dead at 92", Women's Wear Daily, November 8, 1994
  17. ^ "Paid Notice: Death, Petrie, Bernard", New York Times, September 7, 2007
  18. ^ "December Bridal For Miss Chorney". New York Times. October 7, 1990. The future bridegroom is a grandson of Milton J. Petrie, the chairman of the Petrie Stores Corporation in Secaucus, N.J.
  19. ^ Fabrikant, Geraldine, "He Sure Didn't Take It With Him", New York Times, November 20, 1994