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Donald L. Bren (born 1932) is an Americanmarker real estate mogul and chairman of the Irvine Company. He and his wife, attorney Brigitte (Muller) Bren, reside in Newport Beach, Californiamarker.


The Irvine Company Headquarters building in Newport Beach, CA.
Bren is the son of Hollywoodmarker producer Milton Bren and his wife, civic leader Marion Bren. His parents divorced in 1947, and Bren's father married Academy Award-winning actress Claire Trevor in 1948. His mother remarried in 1953, to steel entrepreneur Earle M. Jorgensen.

Bren attended the University of Washingtonmarker for two years on a ski scholarship, where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi, and received a bachelor's degree in business administration. He tried out for the 1956 Olympic ski team but did not qualify due to an injury. After college he served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps.

Bren built his first house in Newport Beach with a $10,000 loan in 1958. In 1963, he and two others started the Mission Viejo Company (MVC) to plan and develop the 10,000-acre city of Mission Viejo, Californiamarker. He was President of MVC from 1963 to 1967. International Paper bought MVC for $34 million in 1970, and then sold it back to Bren for $22 million in 1972 following the recession and once the superheated property market cooled . Bren took the proceeds from MVC (later sold to Philip Morris) and in 1977 joined a group of investors to purchase the 145-year-old Irvine Company. Bren was the largest shareholder of the resulting consortium, owning 34.3% of the company and receiving the title of Vice-chair of the board. By 1983, he was the majority owner of the firm. By 1996, he had bought out all outstanding shares to become the sole owner.

Forbes, in its 2008 edition of "The 400 Richest Americans", ranked Bren as the wealthiest real estate developer in the US with an estimated net worth of $12 billion.

Philanthropy and honors

Bren is a donor to many Orange Countymarker institutions, including the University of California, Irvinemarker, Chapman University, and the Orange County Museum of Artmarker. At UCI, the Bren Events Centermarker, the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciencesmarker and the recently-built Donald Bren Hall are named after him, honoring his patronage of the school. UCI also named its Claire Trevor School of the Arts after his stepmother, and University of California, Santa Barbaramarker named Bren Hallmarker and the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management after him as well.

File:Claire Trevor Theatre, UCI.jpg|Claire Trevor Theatre, UCIFile:ETplazaAtbrenics.jpg|The Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciencesmarker viewed from the top of Bren Hall, UCIFile:UCI Bren Events BasketballCourt 2008.JPG|Basketball court of the Bren Events Centermarker before a game, UCIFile:Bren Hall, UCSB.jpg|Bren Hallmarker, UCSB

Bren is on the boards of the Los Angeles County Museum of Artmarker and the Orange County Museum of Art, and is a Caltechmarker trustee. He also is a Fellow of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciencesmarker, and is a trustee emeritus of the UCI Foundation.

In August 2007, Bren pledged $20 million to the recently-established University of California, Irvine School of Law. The purpose of the gift was to establish an endowment to help recruit and support a nationally recognized dean and 11 distinguished law scholars, and also to provide the dean with discretionary start-up funding. In recognition of the gift, the school was initially named the UCI Donald Bren School of Law. In 2008 an agreement was reached between Bren and UCI that the school would not bear his name. Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school, said, "We are deeply grateful for the Bren gift, but it was decided between the chancellor and Mr. Bren that our name should be parallel to other UC schools."

In February 2008, he gave $8.5 million to THINK Together, a provider of after-school services for Santa Anamarker-area K-6 students.

In March 2009, he was ranked 9th in The Sunday Times's "Green Rich List"—a list of the 100 wealthiest people who have either invested in green technology/businesses or made large contributions to environmental causes. Bren's placement on the list was due to his $20 million in donations to UCSB's School of Environmental Science.

Personal life

Since 2003, Bren has been engaged in a child support conflict with two of his children and their mother, and is fighting their attempts to determine the extent of his wealth. Through his attorney, Bren declared to the court that he earned an average of $14.4 million a year since 1988, disagreeing with Forbes's estimate of his worth. A state appeals court ruled in 2005 that he must be more forthcoming, as did a Los Angeles Superior Court judge in 2008.

Bren is a strong supporter of Republicans, with Forbes describing him in 2008 as "actively involved in McCain's presidential bid." He and his wife have donated large sums to the RNC and to primarily Republican candidates. The Center for Responsive Politics database shows less than 1% of his donations have gone to Democrats.



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