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Melvin Simon (October 21, 1926 – September 16, 2009)[1] was an American businessman and film producer, who co-founded the largest shopping mall company in the United States, the Simon Property Group, with his younger brother, Herb Simon.[2] The pair jointly purchased the Indiana Pacers in 1983.

Melvin Simon
Born(1926-10-21)October 21, 1926
DiedSeptember 16, 2009(2009-09-16) (aged 82)
Other namesMel
Alma materCity College of New York (BA, 1949)
OccupationReal estate developer
Spouse(s)Bess Meshulam (divorced)
Bren Burns
Childrenwith Meshulam:
--Deborah Simon
--Cynthia A. Simon Skjodt
--David E. Simon
with Burns:
--Joshua Max Simon
--Tamme McCauley (adopted daughter)
Parent(s)Max and Mae Simon
RelativesPaul Skjodt (son-in-law)
FamilyHerbert Simon (brother)

Early life and educationEdit

Simon was born to a Jewish family[3][4] in Williamsburg, Brooklyn[5] and grew up in the Bronx, the son of Max and Mae Simon.[6] His father was a tailor who had emigrated from Central Europe. Simon graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and earned a degree in accounting from the City College of New York in 1949. He then served in the US Army where he was stationed at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis in 1953. He supplemented his army pay working as a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman. After leaving the military, he decided to stay in Indianapolis and took a job as a leasing agent where he saw the potential in real estate.[1][6]


Real estateEdit

After a few years as a leasing agent and having handled leasing at several shopping centers, he formed his own leasing company in 1959 with his younger brother Herb, Melvin Simon & Associates.[6] Melvin owned 2/3rd of the business and Herb the remainder.[6] They started out by developing strip centers anchored by groceries and drugstores; they soon graduated to developing fully enclosed malls. By 1967, they owned and operated more than 3 million square feet of retail property and expanded nationally.[6]

The Simons followed a very successful strategy. They would entice a large anchor tenant, typically a department store, to their planned mall by charging them less rent and then would use the contract to obtain bank financing for the construction usually with minimal investment from the Simons. Once the project was completed, the Simons would charge smaller stores a higher rate and also required that stores pay a premium over their rent if their sales exceeded pre-negotiated levels.[1]

In 1993, Melvin Simon & Associates went public as the Simon Property Group raising $1 billion for the Simon brothers. At the time, this was the largest real estate stock offering ever made.[6] In 1996, the company merged with the DeBartolo Realty Corporation in a $3.0 billion merger becoming the Simon DeBartolo Group. In 1998, the company reverted to the Simon Property Group name[6] and maintains its title as the largest mall operator in the United States, owning 386 properties in North America, Europe and Asia; clocking 2.8 billion shopper visits each year, and having annual sales in excess of $60 billion.[1] The company, although publicly held, remained controlled by the Simon brothers.[1]


In the 1970s, Simon expanded into producing films but ended up losing millions of dollars in what he later called a "big mistake".[6] He produced the 1982 adolescent comedy Porky's.[1]

Movies produced by Melvin Simon Productions:

Indiana PacersEdit

In 1983, the Simons bought the NBA franchise, the Indiana Pacers.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

Simon was married twice. His first wife was Bess Meshulam.[7] They later divorced.[8][9] They had three children: Deborah Simon,[7] Cynthia A. Simon Skjodt,[10] and David E. Simon (born 1961), who became chairman and CEO of Simon Property Group.[6]

In 1972, Simon married Bren Burns and adopted Burn's daughter, Tamme McCauley. They also had a son, Joshua Max, who died in 1999 at the age of 25.

Simon was a member of the Beth-El Zedeck congregation in Indianapolis.[11]

Simon died of cancer on September 16, 2009 at the age of 82.[1] At the time of his death, his wealth was estimated at $1.3 billion.[1]

After his death, a dispute over his most recent will arose between his children from his first marriage and his wife. The will, signed with the physical assistance of a financial advisor, was amended seven months before his death. The revised will provided significantly more for Burns, and significantly less for his children by his first marriage, than previous versions.[7][12][13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i New York Times: "Melvin Simon, Pioneer of the Suburban Mall, Dies at 82" by DOUGLAS MARTIN September 18, 2009
  2. ^ Davies, Tom (September 16, 2009). "Melvin Simon Dead: Pacers Owner, Mall Magnate Dies At 82". Huffington Post.
  3. ^ Louisville Insider: "The Simons versus the Runyons explains how Indianapolis became the city Louisville should have been" By Terry Boyd Archived January 26, 2013, at February 6, 2012
  4. ^ We Are Many: Reflections On American Jewish History And Identity By Edward S Shapiro page 122
  5. ^ Martin, Douglas. "Melvin Simon, Pioneer of the Suburban Mall, Dies at 82", The New York Times, 18 September 2009. Accessed 17 March 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Indianapolis Star: "Mel and Herb Simon – mall developers, owners of the Indiana Pacers" Archived April 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine June 2004
  7. ^ a b c Indianapolis Star: "Simon’s daughter sues widow over will – Complaint says billionaire’s 2nd wife coerced him into signing new estate plan favoring her" by John Russell January 9, 2010
  8. ^ ESPN: "Simon co-owned Pacers since 1983" September 16, 2009
  9. ^ The Indy Channel RTV6 ABC: "Simon's Daughter Contests Will – Deborah Simon: Father Coerced Into Revised Estate Plan January 9, 2010
  10. ^ Indiana Ice: Paul Skjodt President retrieved March 22, 2013
  11. ^ Inside Indian Business: "Simon Remembered as 'Partner and Friend'" Archived April 11, 2013, at retrieved March 17, 2013
  12. ^ Hudson, Kris; Silverman, Rachel Emma (February 10, 2010). "Mall Heirs Battle Over Will". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  13. ^ Indiana Business Journal: "Simon family fight breaks out over billionaire's fortune" by Greg Andrews January 8, 2010