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

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

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

Si Newhouse Jr.

Photographer: Ron Galella, Ltd ./ WireImage

Newhouse was chairman of Advance Publications Inc ., which Forbes magazine in 2017 graded as the 40 th-largest private U.S. company, with an estimated$ 8 billion in revenue and 25,000 employees. In four decades at the helm of its publication unit, Conde Nast Publications, he developed new titles, participated marketplaces around the globe and helped reengineer publications as thick, glossy publications in which paid ads 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, recognise its primary sponsor, was renamed the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

‘Sideline Business’

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

Both brothers were among the wealthiest Americans. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index calculated 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, ranked 119 th.

Under Si Newhouse, Conde Nast’s publications 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 transformed 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 enjoyed magazines, he adoration everything about them — from the conception of new books to the charm and rigour of the most recent issue — and that ardour, that commitment to excellence, free expression, and imagination radiated in every direction.”

Fired Editors

Though he shunned publicity, Newhouse stirred headlines with his personnels moves. He became known for” a long path of editorial decapitations ,” as Maier put it, including the firing of Grace Mirabella, who learned from a television news report that her hour as Vogue’s editor-in-chief had come to an end.

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

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

Ousting Shawn

Perhaps no other Newhouse personnels move described the outcry that followed the objective of eliminating William Shawn, the longtime editor of the New Yorker.

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

Newhouse personally answered 600 notes 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 publish industry, Newhouse’s magazines fought in a digital age. HG’s final publication 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 the history of magazines — as written by males 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 manner in which he executed it, will be long remembered in these hallways and on newsstands around the world. He was a one-off in an era 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 section 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 spent 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 restored the finances of the Bayonne Times and used his profits in 1922 to buy 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 adore of art with her first-born son. She” lives 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 began taking annual tour of Europe’s fashion houses.

Feared Failure

As a teen in high school and at college, Si Newhouse was tormented by” the fear of neglecting his exacting father-god” and divulged to a friend that he thought about suicide, Maier wrote. He attended the private, all-male Horace Mann School in New York, then recruited at Syracuse University, fulfilling a hope of “his fathers”, who owned Syracuse’s two daily newspapers as well as a radio terminal and a television station.

He lowered out after three years and, with his father’s assist, tried to find a home 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 sending them 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 chores at Glamour to hear the publication 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 belief, as we do, that its best days lie ahead ,” their own families said in an emailed statement Sunday.” On behalf of everybody in our household, we are hoping celebrating Si’s legacy by resuming his passionate support for Conde Nast and for your extraordinary employment .”

‘Newhouse Concept’

Alexander Liberman, a Russian-born artist and photographer who was Conde Nast’s artistry director, became a mentor to Newhouse and rose to editorial director. According to Maier, “its been” Liberman who came up with the word” the Newhouse theory” to describe a publication model that placed a payment on marketing, readership surveys, circulation figures and advertising revenue.

The Newhouse method” was to blur the differences between editorial and ad, discrepancies between what was used to inform and what was used to sell ,” Maier wrote.” Although his region was “the worlds” of women’s style publications, Si Newhouse was still a very practical bottom-line publisher like “his fathers” .”

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 shown monthly chronicle of strength, opulence and luminary that, according to its mission statement,” provokes and drives the popular dialogue .”

Star Staff

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

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

Explaining the rationale for why the sale, Newhouse told Publishers Weekly:” There were private, practical, and governmental ingredients — inheritance taxes — that constructed us decide that we had to focus the business. This was originally a newspaper company and at its heart, it remains one. The magazines are the second major area, with cable concerns next .”

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