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Melvin Simon

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Title: Melvin Simon  
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Melvin Simon

Melvin Simon
Born (1926-10-21)October 21, 1926
Glen Cove, New York
Died September 16, 2009(2009-09-16) (aged 82)
Nationality United States
Other names Mel
Alma mater City College of New York (B.A., 1949)
Occupation Real estate developer
Spouse(s) Bess Meshulam (divorced)
Bren Burns
Children with Meshulam:
--Deborah Simon
--Cynthia A. Simon Skjodt
--David E. Simon
with Burns:
--Joshua Max Simon (deceased)
--Tamme McCauley (adopted daughter)
Parents Max and Mae Simon
Family Herbert Simon (brother)

Melvin "Mel" Simon (October 21, 1926 – September 16, 2009)[1] was an American businessman and film producer, who co-founded the largest shopping mall company in the United States, the Simon Property Group, with his younger brother, Herb Simon.[2] Mel and Herb Simon jointly purchased the Indiana Pacers in 1983.

Early life and education

Simon was born to a Jewish family[3][4] in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and grew up in the Bronx, the son of Max and Mae Simon.[5] His father was a tailor who had emigrated from Central Europe. Simon graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and earned a degree in accounting from the City College of New York in 1949. He then served in the US Army where he was stationed at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis in 1953. He supplemented his army pay working as a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman. After leaving the military, he decided to stay in Indianapolis and took a job as a leasing agent where he saw the potential in real estate.[5][1]


Real estate

After a few years as a leasing agent and having handled leasing at several shopping centers, he formed his own leasing company in 1959 with his younger brother Herb, Melvin Simon & Associates.[5] Melvin owned 2/3rd of the business and Herb the remainder.[5] They started out by developing strip centers anchored by groceries and drugstores; they soon graduated to developing fully enclosed malls. By 1967, they owned and operated more than 3 million square feet of retail property and expanded nationally.[5]

The Simons followed a very successful strategy. They would entice a large anchor tenant, typically a department store, to their planned mall by charging them less rent and then would use the contract to obtain bank financing for the construction usually with minimal investment from the Simons. Once the project was completed, the Simons would charge smaller stores a higher rate and also required that stores pay a premium over their rent if their sales exceeded pre-negotiated levels.[1]

In 1993, Melvin Simon & Associates went public as the Simon Property Group raising $1 billion for the Simon brothers. At the time, this was the largest real estate stock offering ever made.[5] In 1996, the company merged with the DeBartolo Realty Corporation in a $3.0 billion merger becoming the Simon DeBartolo Group. In 1998, the company reverted to the Simon Property Group name[5] and maintains its title as the largest mall operator in the United States, owning 386 properties in North America, Europe and Asia; clocking 2.8 billion shopper visits each year, and having annual sales in excess of $60 billion.[1] The company, although publicly held, remained controlled by the Simon brothers.[1]


In the 1970s, Simon expanded into producing films but ended up losing millions of dollars in what he later called a "big mistake."[5] He is known for producing the 1982 adolescent classic Porky's.[1]

Indiana Pacers

In 1983, the Simons bought the NBA franchise, the Indiana Pacers.

Personal life

Simon has been married twice:[6]

  • His first wife was Bess Meshulam[6] They later divorced.[7] Bess (now Koby) remarried and later died of cancer in 1977.[8] They had three children:[6]
  • In 1972, he married Bren Burns and adopted Bren's daughter from a previous marriage, Tamme McCauley. They also had a son, Joshua Max, who died in 1999 at the age of 25.[6][1]

He was a member of the Beth-El Zedeck congregation in Indianapolis.[10]

Mel's producing career was tarnished by the kidnapping and assault of his daughter Deborah. She carried the mental instability borne of that day all of her adult life.


Mel Simon died of cancer on September 16, 2009 at the age of 82.[1] At the time of his death, his wealth was estimated at $1.3 billion.[1]

After his death, a dispute over his most recent will arose between his children from his first marriage and his wife. The will, signed with the physical assistance of a financial advisor, was amended seven months before his death. The revised will provided significantly more for Burns, and significantly less for his children by his first marriage, than previous versions.[11][6][12]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i New York Times: "Melvin Simon, Pioneer of the Suburban Mall, Dies at 82" by DOUGLAS MARTIN September 18, 2009
  2. ^ Davies, Tom (September 16, 2009). "Melvin Simon Dead: Pacers Owner, Mall Magnate Dies At 82". Huffington Post. 
  3. ^ Louisville Insider: "The Simons versus the Runyons explains how Indianapolis became the city Louisville should have been" By Terry Boyd February 6, 2012
  4. ^ By Edward S ShapiroWe Are Many: Reflections On American Jewish History And Identity page 122
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Indianapolis Star: "Mel and Herb Simon – mall developers, owners of the Indiana Pacers" June 2004
  6. ^ a b c d e f Indianapolis Star: "Simon’s daughter sues widow over will – Complaint says billionaire’s 2nd wife coerced him into signing new estate plan favoring her" by John Russell January 9, 2010
  7. ^ ESPN: "Simon co-owned Pacers since 1983" September 16, 2009
  8. ^ The Indy Channel RTV6 ABC: "Simon's Daughter Contests Will – Deborah Simon: Father Coerced Into Revised Estate Plan January 9, 2010
  9. ^ Indiana Ice: Paul Skjodt President retrieved March 22, 2013
  10. ^ Inside Indian Business: "Simon Remembered as 'Partner and Friend'" retrieved March 17, 2013
  11. ^ Hudson, Kris; Silverman, Rachel Emma (February 10, 2010). "Mall Heirs Battle Over Will".  
  12. ^ Indiana Business Journal: "Simon family fight breaks out over billionaire's fortune" by Greg Andrews January 8, 2010
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