Culture / Newsy

Houston Billionaire Fayez Sarofim Dies in his River Oaks Home — Dapper Financial Whiz Known as The Sphinx Leaves a Vast Legacy

Passes Away at Age 93

BY // 05.28.22

Long recognized as Houston’s premier wealth management guru and a generous philanthropist, billionaire Fayez Sarofim, age 93, passed away at his River Oaks home in the early hours of Saturday morning leaving behind a fortune estimated by Forbes in May to be worth $1.6 billion. His gilt-edged firm Fayez Sarofim & Co. is said to manage some $31.6 billion in assets.

Scion of an esteemed Coptic Egyptian family, Sarofim received his MBA from Harvard before moving to Houston where he founded his namesake investment firm in 1958. His propitious marriage to Louisa Stude, heiress to the Brown and Root fortune, guaranteed initial success. But it was his uncanny ability to pick stocks that were about to soar and his rigorous intelligence that set the path for Sarofim’s remarkable success.

He quickly earned the moniker The Sphinx for his few public comments and his Egyptian heritage

As Baron’s once noted, Sarofim’s philosophy was buy great growth companies and never sell. In 2013, Baron’s reported that Sarofim had met with his son, Christopher, and 50 other principals at the firm and confirmed plans that the enterprise would remain private on his departure.

Throughout his life, Sarofim was noted for his tailored British three-piece suits and his ever-present cigar. He was even said to wear a camouflage tie with his camos when on hunting excursions in South Texas. Even in later life when he was confined to a wheelchair, he was still the dapper financial whiz that won the affection of investors for more than half a century.

Sarofim was noted for his vast fine art collection that includes John Singer Sargent, Lee Krazner, Winslow Homer, Childe Hassam and William de Koonig. Last summer, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston presented Three Centuries of American Art: Antiquities, European and American Masterpieces from the Fayez S. Sarofim Collection.

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Susan & Fayez Sarofim is greeted by Neal Bush at the 2018 UNICEF Gala at the Post Oak Hotel.
Susan & Fayez Sarofim is greeted by Neal Bush at the 2018 UNICEF Gala at the Post Oak Hotel.

During the 2014-2015 Christmas/New Year’s holidays, Sarofim wed Susan Krohn and then began what appeared to be one of the happiest periods of his later life. The Sphinx who was previously seldom seen smiling in public displayed a genuine conviviality on each of their outings.

Sarofim’s $70 million gift to the MFAH $450 million expansion earned naming rights to the campus which is now known as the Susan and Fayez S. Sarofim Campus. His company manages part of the museum’s $1 billion endowment.

Sarofim is survived by his wife Susan; son Christopher Sarofim and Christopher’s wife Courtney; daughter Allison Sarofim; son Andrew Sarofim and wife Mona; son Phillip Sarofim; multiple grandchildren; plus stepdaughters Lori Krohn Sarofim and Kelly Krohn.

Funeral arrangements are pending with Geo H. Lewis & Sons.

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