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‘Si’ Newhouse, Billionaire Publisher of Vogue and GQ, Dies at 89

Samuel ” Si ” Newhouse Jr ., the publishing billionaire who administered some of America’s best-known publications, including Vogue, the New Yorker, GQ and Vanity Fair as heads of state of the closely held media empire built by “his fathers”, has died. He was 89.

He expired Sunday at home, Conde Nast spokeswoman Cameron Blanchard confirmed in an email. No cause was given.

Si Newhouse Jr.

Photographer: Ron Galella, Ltd ./ WireImage

Newhouse was chairman of Advance Publications Inc ., which Forbes magazine in 2017 ranked as the 40 th-largest private U.S. corporation, with an estimated$ 8 billion in incomes and 25,000 employees. In four decades at the helm of its magazine unit, Conde Nast Publications, he created new names, entered markets around the globe and helped reengineer publications as thick-skulled, glossy publications in which paid advertisements seem to complement rather than interrupt the articles.

His father, Samuel Sr ., died in 1979 as a self-made media chieftain. He owned 31 newspapers with a total circulation of more than 3 million, plus the Sunday supplement Parade, seven magazines including Vogue and Glamour, radio stations and cable-television systems. In 1971, Syracuse University’s journalism school, accepting its primary patron, was renamed the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

‘Sideline Business’

Newhouse was given power of Vogue and four other women’s publications in the early 1960 s, a reflection of how his father viewed them as” a sideline business ,” Thomas Maier wrote in his 1994 journal on the family’s media empire. His younger brother, Donald, viewed inside the family as more dedicated to the family corporation, was put in charge of its newspapers.

Both brethren were among the wealthiest Americans. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index approximated Si’s net worth at $12.7 billion, ranking him the 35 th wealthiest in the U.S ., and Donald’s at $11.7 billion, graded 119 th.

Under Si Newhouse, Conde Nast’s magazines moved from sideline to centerpiece.

He acquired GQ, Gourmet, the New Yorker and Details and supervised the creation of Self. He bought Diner Club’s travel magazine, Signature, and grew it into Conde Nast Traveler. He revamped House& Garden, which was renamed HG. And he re-introduced Vanity Fair, an original Conde Nast publication that had ceased publication in 1936.

” Si Newhouse wasn’t incidentally in the publication business ,” David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, said in a statement emailed from the company.” He desired magazines, he adoration everything about them — from the conception of new publishings to the glamour and rigor of the latest issue — and that fervour, that is committed to excellence, free expression, and imagination radiated in every direction.”

Fired Editors

Though he shunned advertisement, Newhouse made headlines with his personnel moves. He became known for” a long pipeline of editorial decapitations ,” as Maier threw it, including the firing of Grace Mirabella, who learned from television broadcasting news report that her day as Vogue’s editor-in-chief had come to an end.

Mirabella was moved to make way for Anna Wintour, who had earlier resulted British Vogue and House& Garden. She was one beneficiary of Newhouse’s preference for big-name ace editors. Another was Tina Brown, whom Newhouse identified editor firstly of Vanity Fair, then of the New Yorker.

Newhouse defended his frequent editorial reorganizations.” Change is change ,” he was quoted as telling the Los Angeles Times in 1989.” It doesn’t happen gradually .”

Ousting Shawn

Perhaps no other Newhouse personnel move described the outcry that followed the removal of William Shawn, the longtime editor of the New Yorker.

When Newhouse bought the New Yorker in 1985, he promised” to preserve its quality through retaining its staff and its traditions .” Less than 2 years later, he pushed Shawn into retirement and reached outside the magazine to tap a successor — Robert Gottlieb, chairman of journal publisher Alfred A. Knopf Inc. More than 150 of the magazine’s writers, editors and artists signed a letter recommending Gottlieb to decline the appointed. Gottlieb took the job.

Newhouse personally answered 600 letters from unhappy readers.” People have an intensely personal relationship with the New Yorker ,” he said in 1988, according to the New York Times. He called the publication” one of the greatest things in journalism and the most interesting thing I am involved in .”

Like the rest of the publication industry, Newhouse’s magazines fought in a digital age. HG’s final edition was in 2007. In 2009 alone, four Conde Nast names — Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, Cookie and the two-year-old Portfolio — folded, while Gourmet became an online-only publication.

” With Si’s passing, the big chapters in its own history of magazines — as written by boys like Si and Henry Luce — will have come to an end ,” said Graydon Carter, outgoing editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair.” Si’s vision, and the soft behaviour in which he executed it, will be long recollected in these hallways and on newsstands around the world. He was a one-off in an age of carbon imitates .”

Fortune Breakdown

The largest source of Newhouse‘s wealth was derived from the $10.4 billion sale of cable operator Bright House Networks LLC to Charter Communications Inc. in May 2016. Another sizable parcel came from his stake in Discovery Communications Inc ., which owns Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet.

Samuel Irving Newhouse Jr. was born Nov. 8, 1927, in New York. He and his brother invested their early years in a house on Staten Island’s Ward Hill overlooking New York Harbor before the family moved to a 14 -room duplex on Park Avenue in Manhattan.

Their father — the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant, Meier Neuhaus, who left Manhattan’s Lower East Side tenements for New Jersey — had resuscitated the finances of the Bayonne Times and used his profits in 1922 purchasing the Staten Island Advance, which would be the foundation of his newspaper chain.

Their mother, the former Mitzi Epstein, attended New York’s Parsons School of Design and shared a adoration of artwork with her first-born son. She” was living in a whirl of high fashion ,” Time reported in 1962. Sam Newhouse liked to say that he bought Conde Nast, Vogue in particular, as a 35 th anniversary present for his wife, who started taking annual tours of Europe’s fashion houses.

Feared Failure

As a adolescent in high school and at college, Si Newhouse was tormented by” the fear of neglecting his exacting parent” and confided to a pal that he thought about suicide, Maier wrote. He were represented at the private, all-male Horace Mann School in New York, then recruited at Syracuse University, fulfilling a want of “his fathers”, who owned Syracuse’s two daily newspapers as well as a radio station and a television station.

He lowered out after three years and, with his father’s assistance, tried to find a place for himself in journalism, beginning with a stint in Paris for the International News Service. After serving two years in the U.S. Air Force, he was sent to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to oversee the two daily newspapers that his father had added to his holdings.

He was working at the Star-Ledger newspaper in Newark, New Jersey, when his father bought Conde Nast Publications, publisher of Vogue, House& Garden, Glamour and the Vogue Pattern Book, for a reported$ 5 million in 1959. Soon he was given responsibility to administer Conde Nast and operated various undertakings at Glamour to hear the magazine business. He was identified publisher of the U.S. edition of Vogue in 1964 and chairman of Conde Nast in 1975.

” Si took great satisfaction in Conde Nast’s business success and he believed, as we do, that its best days lie ahead ,” his family said in an emailed statement Sunday.” On behalf of everybody in our family, we are hoping celebrating Si’s legacy by persisting his passionate is supportive of Conde Nast and for your remarkable task .”

‘Newhouse Concept’

Alexander Liberman, a Russian-born artist and photographer who was Conde Nast’s artwork administrator, became a mentor to Newhouse and rose to editorial director. According to Maier, it was Liberman who came up with the term” the Newhouse conception” to describe a publication framework that placed a premium on marketing, readership surveys, circulation figures and ad revenue.

The Newhouse method” was to blur the distinction between editorial and publicizing, discrepancies between what was used to inform and what was used to sell ,” Maier wrote.” Although his domain was “the worlds” of women’s mode publications, Si Newhouse was still a very practical bottom-line publisher like his father .”

As head of a closely held company, Newhouse had extra leeway to take risks. The first was his decision to revive Vanity Fair, the richly represented monthly chronicle of ability, money and luminary that, according to the fact-finding mission statement,” provokes and drives the popular dialogue .”

Star Staff

First under Brown — the third editor of Newhouse’s first time — and then under Carter starting in 1992, Vanity Fair assembled a roster of superstar contributors, including columnists Dominick Dunne and Christopher Hitchens, reporter Gail Sheehy and photographer Annie Leibovitz. International publications are published in the U.K ., Spain and Italy.

Newhouse expanded the scope of the family corporation in 1980 by acquiring journal publisher Random House Inc. from the RCA Corp. for $70 million. After almost two decades of efforts to integrate journals into the company’s other media outlets, Newhouse sold Random House in 1998 to Bertelsmann AG, proprietor of Bantam Doubleday Dell, for about $1.1 billion.

Explaining the reasons for the sale, Newhouse told Publishers Weekly:” There were private, practical, and governmental factors — inheritance taxes — that established us decide that we had to focus the business. This was originally a newspaper corporation and at its heart, it remains one. The publications are the second major field, with cable interests next .”

Newhouse had three children, Samuel, Wynn and Pamela, with his first spouse, Jane Franke, whom he had met in college. His second matrimony was to Victoria de Ramel, the former wife of a French count. His survivors include his wife; two children, Samuel and Pamela; two brothers, Donald; five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, according to the family statement.