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Spotlight on Billionaire Gigi Pritzker

Gigi Pritzker 600x350

The Chicago-born Pritzker is a member of one of America’s richest families, who have lived in Chicago since 1881. Born in 1962, she is the granddaughter of A.N. Pritzker. Her late father, Jay Pritzker, was co-founder of the Hyatt hotel chain and a prominent philanthropist.

BILLIONAIRE: JEAN (GIGI) PRITZKER

NET WORTH: $2.1 billion (CelebrityNetWorth)

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Hotels, investments

HOLLYWOOD CONNECTIONS: CEO of OddLot Entertainment.
Pritzker recently partnered with veteran Hollywood producer Robert Simonds and China’s Hony Capital to form “a next generation film studio” that will spend more than $1 billion over five years to finance, produce and self-distribute eight to 10 “star-driven” theatrical films each year for global markets. (Deadline)
Pritzker began her Hollywood career by joining with a friend, Deborah Del Prete, to found OddLot. When it began, the production label had only about a dozen employees who operated from warehouse-style space near Sony Pictures studio in Culver City. (New York Times).

Oddlot’s co-presidents are former MGM Pictures president Michael Nathanson and former First Look Studios president Bill Lischak.
OddLot recently closed a $50 million—and it could rise to $150 million—revolving line of credit with J.P. Morgan and Comerica.

NOTABLE FILMS:

“Ender’s Game.” The Harrison Ford 2013 sci-fi release grossed $125 million worldwide but disappointed since it reportedly cost $110 million.

“Drive.” The 2011 Ryan Gosling action drama grossed $76.2 million worldwide.

“Draft Day.” Directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Kevin Costner, the film opened April 11 and has grossed more than $26 million to date in North America.

NOTABLE FLOP:
“The Spirit.” Directed by Frank Miller, the $60 million action/crime/fantasy about a rookie cop who returns from the beyond on a mission to fight against bad forces in Central City, grossed only $30 million worldwide. As a result, according to the New York Times reported, the Pritzker/Del Prete partnership dissolved.

FILM PROJECTS IN THE WORKS:
“Rosewater.” Directorial debut of comedian Jon Stewart, best known as host of “The Daily Show.” The film, which stars Gael Garcia Bernal, tells the story of a journalist who is detained in Iran for more than 100 days and brutally interrogated in prison (IMDB).
“Mortdecal.” Directed by David Koepp, the film stars Johnny Depp, Olivia Munn, Ewan McGregor and Gwyneth Paltrow and revolves around an art dealer named Charles Mortdecal who searches for a stolen painting that’s reportedly linked to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold. (IMDB)

OddLot Entertainment recently acquired an untitled divorce comedy from Gillian Robespierre (“Obvious Child”). The story is set in New York and revolves around three women.

Also in development:
“Space Invaders” with producer and former Warner Bros. production exec Lorenzo di Bonaventura (“G.I. Joe”)
“Spitfire,” a NASCAR-themed film.
“The Lavender Hill Mob.”
Untitled Albert Einstein project with director Stephen Schiff (writer on “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”) attached. (IMDB)

BROADWAY MELODY: Gigi Pritzker and Ted Rawlins own Relevant Theatricals, a live stage production company that was part of the producing team that developed the jukebox musical “Million Dollar Quartet.”

MARITAL STATUS: Married to Chicago attorney Michael Pucker; three children. Principle residence: Chicago.

She studied anthropology at Stanford University. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, when Pritzker’s thesis about “folk stories in Nepal flopped, a professor suggested film school because she was creative.” She took courses in documentary filmmaking.
When her grandfather died in 1999, she was left a fortune of $1.9 billion.

COUSIN PENNY: President Obama last year named Gigi’s cousin, Penny Pritzker, who’s net worth is estimated at $2.2 billion (Forbes), as U.S. Commerce Secretary. As a result, the Pritzker family came under intense congressional and media scrutiny. Penny was confirmed by a vote of 97-1 in the U.S. Senate.

“(Penny) Pritzker’s family is renowned for finding ways to avoid paying taxes on its wealth. The Pritzkers were pioneers in using tax loopholes to shelter their holdings from the Internal Revenue Service.”—New York Times

A group called Citizens for Tax Justice opined that “One of the primary ways the Pritzker family uses offshore trusts to avoid taxes is having income from their business funneled into offshore trusts. Those trusts then pay debt service to a bank, owned by the family trust, that loans that money right back to the business. The upshot is that all the taxable profits disappear and the family wealth accumulates unabated.”—U.S. News and World Report
OTHER BIZ: In 2007, the Pritzker family sold conrol of the Marmon Group to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway for $4.5 billion.
Last year, Gigi Pritzker joined her brother, Tom, ($2.7 billion—Forbes), in acquiring the steel mill servicing company TMS International for $1 billion (Jewish Business News).
Gigi Pritzker is also part-owner of Chicago Mill & Lumber Co. (Muckety.com)

QUOTABLES: “I had never thought I was creative. It wasn’t necessarily a value in my family. It wasn’t devalued—it just wasn’t something that you were.” (Crain’s Chicago Business, 2013)
“He was an eight-grader who had a hard time reading, but he read this book and liked it, and that intrigued me….And he said, ‘Wouldn’t it make a great movie?’” (Crain’s Chicago Business, 2013, referring to her nephew, David Pritzker, who introduced her to the 1985 sci-fi novel “Ender’s Game.”)

“Many years ago, my great-grandfather was a Russian immigrant child with pneumonia.—Gigi Pritzker, after her family contributed $10 million toward construction at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

PHILANTHROPHY: President and director of Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation and the Pritzker Early Childhood Foundation. The Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation gives to kidney research.
“The Pritzker family name is one of the most prominent in Chicago. From Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion to galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago, the family’s philanthropic efforts and wealth are widely known in the city.—The National Journal.

POWER AND INFLUENCE: Chicago magazine named her one of the 100 Most Powerful Chicagoans last year.

Ranked 89th by Muckety LLC, a company that tracks people and organizations with power and influence. Muckety was founded in 2006 by a team with years of experience in journalism, technology and online publishing. “If someone has a score of 99, it means that he or she has more connections and influence than 99 percent of the others in our listings of the most influential people in America,” Muckety notes on its website.

Political Note: While Penny Pritzker served as national finance chair for President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, cousin Gigi contributed $2,500 to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.—Forbes

SCIENTOLOGY CONNECTION: Produced the 2010 drama “Rabbit Hole” starring Nicole Kidman, ex-wife of famed Scientologist Tom Cruise. The $5 million film grossed $2.2 million in North America.

About Robert W. Welkos

Executive Editor: Robert W. Welkos is an award-winning journalist who covered the entertainment industry for 15 years as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times. During this span, he wrote extensively about the movie industry from turmoil in the executive suites, the Academy Awards and Golden Globes, and box office hits and bombs to visits to movie sets as well as profiles of top stars and A-list directors, cutting edge features on the newest indie films and visits to famous film festivals like Sundance and Cannes. Prior to entertainment, Welkos worked as a reporter and assistant city editor in The Times’ Metro section where he undertook major investigations for the paper as well as covering breaking news and writing in-depth features. Before joining The Times, he worked for the Associated Press in Reno, Nevada, and City News Service in Los Angeles.

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