- 1 May, 23
In this article titled “Rick Caruso 101: Who is the Famous Billionaire Businessman?” we will delve into everything you need to know about Rick Caruso, the famous billionaire businessman that our readers are curious about here at Zatrun.com.
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Who is Rick Caruso?
Rick Joseph Caruso is an American businessman born on January 7th, 1959. He is a billionaire and the founder and former CEO of American real estate company, Caruso. He also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the University of Southern California and previously served as the President of the Los Angeles Police Commission and as a member of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners. In the 2022 Los Angeles mayoral election, Caruso ran as a Democratic candidate but lost to fellow Democrat Karen Bass. Prior to this, he was registered as an independent and was previously a Republican.
Of Italian descent, Rick Caruso was born in Los Angeles. His father, Henry Caruso, was a businessman who founded Dollar Rent-A-Car and owned several car dealerships in the Los Angeles area. His mother, Gloria, was a billboard model in her youth. Caruso graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in 1980 (where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and Trojan Knights); and earned his J.D. from Pepperdine University School of Law in 1983 as a Margaret Martin Brock Scholar.
Real estate development: Rick Caruso was a real estate lawyer in the corporate finance department at Finley Kumble. In 1987, he founded the Caruso company which develops, owns, and manages properties. He initially bought parking lots that his father had agreed to rent to Dollar Rent-A-Car and sold them when their value increased. In 1990, he left the legal profession to develop retail and residential properties full-time. His projects include The Grove at Farmers Market in Los Angeles, Americana at Brand in Glendale, The Commons in Calabasas, The Promenade in Westlake, The Lakes in Thousand Oaks (leased by the city of Thousand Oaks), Waterside in Marina del Rey, Palisades Village in Pacific Palisades, and Rosewood Miramar Beach in Santa Barbara.
In 2015, Caruso financed a voter initiative to override local planning laws and California’s Environmental Quality Act to build an outdoor shopping center in Carlsbad, California. The initiative was passed, but subsequently overturned by a referendum, requiring a public vote – Measure A. The measure failed, and the construction of the shopping center was halted. In total, Caruso spent over $12 million in less than a year to get the project approved, including on television ads, mailings, and consulting fees.
In 2016, the Los Angeles Times reported that Caruso, his partners, and his family had donated more than $476,000 to L.A. city officials over the previous five years, during which time the Los Angeles City Hall approved several construction projects. Caruso’s company was accused of suppressing free speech in 2015 and 2017 for rejecting an advertisement for a documentary about the Armenian Genocide at Americana at Brand. Americana eventually reversed the ad decision.
In 1985, at the age of 26, Rick Caruso became the youngest commissioner in the history of the city of Los Angeles when he was appointed by Mayor Tom Bradley as a commissioner for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. In August 2001, Caruso was appointed to the Los Angeles Police Commissioners Board by Mayor James K. Hahn and led the election process that resulted in the hiring of former New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton as the Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department during his tenure.
In 2008, Rick Caruso was elected as a member of the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission, overseeing the operations of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and nearby Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. During his time on the commission, Caruso advocated for reforms, including the resignation of the general manager and the replacement of the commission with a new governing body. He also supported the banning of rave parties at the two venues.
2022 Los Angeles Mayoral Race: Rick Caruso had considered running for the Los Angeles Mayoral race in 2009 and 2013 but ultimately did not. In 2019, he expressed interest in running for the 2022 elections. On February 11, 2022, one day before the filing deadline, he announced his candidacy. Caruso spent a total of $41 million on his primary campaign, including $39 million on digital, radio, and television advertisements. Caruso came in second place in the primary election held in June and faced Karen Bass in the runoff held on November 8. However, Bass won the election.
Caruso Family Foundation: Rick Caruso established the Caruso Family Foundation, which focuses on organizations that support the health and education of children. In addition to USC and Pepperdine, Caruso has made significant donations to Los Angeles academic institutions such as Loyola High School and Brentwood School, where three of his children received an education.
Law schools: Caruso and his wife Tina created the Caruso Debt Reorganization Fund, which covers law school debt payments for low-income and other disadvantaged students for a period of ten years. In October 2019, they made a $50 million donation to Pepperdine Law School, which was renamed in his honor. The gift is intended to support historically underrepresented students and those pursuing public interest law.
University of Southern California: Caruso’s daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Caruso, was born with hearing loss and received treatment at the Keck School of Medicine at USC. In 2015, Caruso and his wife Tina donated an additional $25 million to USC to establish and name the Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. After Caruso’s $9 million donation, the Caruso Catholic Center and Our Savior Parish Church on the USC campus were named and gifted. In 2018, Caruso was elected Chairman of the USC Board of Trustees. However, he announced his resignation from this position on February 15, 2022.
As Chairman of the USC Board of Trustees, Caruso was criticized for the handling of the case involving USC gynecologist George Tyndall, who had sexually abused hundreds of patients over 30 years despite complaints dating back to 1991. Despite promising an independent investigation and accompanying public report in May 2018, the investigation report has still not been released.
Rick Caruso was named Pepperdine Law School’s Alumnus of the Year in 1995. He was also recognized as “Developer of the Year” by the Los Angeles Business Journal and named the 2012 Ernst & Young LLP Master Entrepreneur. Caruso has taught classes on real estate topics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, USC’s Price School of Public Policy, and the Milken Institute Global Conference. He has also served as a guest panelist for the International Council of Shopping Centers.
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