Jim Tisch is the billionaire CEO of Loews Corp., the company founded by his father and uncle. Together with his brother Andrew Tisch and his first cousin Jonathan Tisch, Jim runs a conglomerate involved in hotels, oil, and insurance.
Larry Tisch and Bob Tisch—Jim's father and uncle, respectively—founded the company in 1946 when they purchased a motel in New Jersey for $375,000. They grew the company in the 1950s by constructing hotel properties in New York and Florida, later moving on to movie theaters (they acquired a chain from MGM in 1959) and tobacco (they acquired Lorillard, the fifth-largest tobacco company, in 1968). In the 1970s, they waged a lengthy battle to acquire the financial services company CNA and then picked up Bulova, a watch manufacturer in the red. Following a detour into media in the 1980s that was marked by controversy—the Tisches purchased a major stake in CBS, eventually selling it in 1995—they focused on less glam businesses in the 1990s, purchasing oil rigs, tankers, and gas pipelines. Like his older brother and first cousin, Jim has worked at the company for his entire career—he was helping out at the family hotel properties as a college student—and was named CEO in 1999 as part of a succession plan designed by his father and uncle.
"Jimmy" (as he's known to friends and colleagues) oversees a vast conglomerate these days: Loews has more than 20,000 employees and $16 billion in annual revenue. Although his father and uncle left him ultimately in charge, he's part of a triumvirate that oversees the company's activities: his older brother, Andrew, serves as co-chair and oversees the Bulova brand, and his first cousin, Jon Tisch, is in charge of hotel properties. The three have had their hands full the last few years. A downturn at CNA several years ago led to steep losses; tobacco-related litigation made owning a cigarette company a very expensive—and headache-inducing—proposition (in late 2007, Loews decided to spin off the company); and not surprisingly, the company's hotel operations suffered in the aftermath of Sept. 11th. Although Jim has presided over a turnaround as of late and things appear on an upswing, the revival has also fueled speculation that the company may be a takeover target.
Jim's first cousin—Jon's older brother—is Steve Tisch, the film producer behind films like Forrest Gump and Risky Business. Jim also has two other brothers: Tom Tisch and Dan Tisch. Both hold significant stakes in the company but are not involved in management roles at Loews.
The Tisch family has donated to a wide variety of causes over the years. Since the 1960s they've given more than $100 million to NYU, including $30 million to establish the Tisch hospital at NYU. The family is also responsible for the Tisch Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Tisch Children's Zoo in Central Park.
James and his wife Merryl, a former first grade teacher, have three children. Formerly a resident of 9 East 79th Street—where his neighbors conveniently included the investment banker who has helped the Tisch family negotiate some of its biggest deals, Allen & Co.'s Nancy Peretsman—in 2008 Jim paid $21 million for a 30 year lease on a 12,000-square-foot, nine-fireplace mansion on Fifth Avenue.