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Richard Blum, Controversial Husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Dies at 86

Blum was noted for his philanthropy, support of Tibet

By Evan Symon, February 28, 2022 12:14 pm

Richard Blum, CEO of private equity firm Blum Capital and husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), died on Sunday following a years-long bout with cancer at the age of 86.

Born in 1935 in San Francisco, Blum graduated from UC-Berkeley with a degree in business administration 1n 1958 and an MBA in 1959. Blum quickly moved up in the financial world and by the 1970’s was running his own equity firm, Blum Capital, and was a major supporter of city politicians, including then-Mayor George Moscone. Following Moscone’s assassination by former Supervisor Dan White in 1978, Moscone grew close to Moscone’s replace, Dianne Feinstein. They married in 1980.

Following his marriage, Blum became known as one of the top Tibetan charity fundraisers in the world, starting the American Himalayan Foundation after visits in the early 1980’s. His closeness with Tibet led to him being friends with the Dalai Lama and becoming an Honorary Consul of Tibet later in his life. In addition to philanthropy, Blum was also known for being appointed to prominent state positions, the most noteworthy being the UC Board of Regents in 2002.

In more recent decades, Blum had faced increasing criticism over a number of his decisions and brought increasing controversy to both himself and Senator Feinstein. Specifically, his strong ties to Chinese businesses through Blum Capital and Feinstein voting record on Chinese trade have been criticized multiple times, as had Feinstein’s votes for military contracts during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in the mid-2000’s that directly impacted his firm in a positive way. In addition, Blum and Feinstein had repeatedly faced accusations of making millions off of Feinstein’s votes and decisions in the Senate.

More recently, Blum was found to have given inappropriate help to students hoping to gain admission to UC Universities. During his time with the Board of Regents, Blum had broken admittance rules and directly helped many unqualified students get admitted. Despite this, he was not removed from the Board and continued to give money to several UC Universities.

Messages following the death of Blum

Following his death on Sunday, many gave messages of grief. Senator Feinstein in particular had a moving message, stating that he had done great things and that she would miss him.

“My heart is broken today,” said the Senator in a statement on Monday. “My husband was my partner and best friend for more than 40 years. He was by my side for the good times and for the challenges. I am going to miss him terribly.

“As a role model, Dick was second to none, and I think his compassion and devotion to the people of the Himalayan region may prove to be his most enduring legacy. Dick was incredibly devoted to his family, particularly his daughters and his grandchildren, and my heart is with them and everyone who Dick encountered. He was the type of man who really replaced his divot in life, who left things better than he found them. His enormous generosity is an inspiration for so many of us.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) added that “We were heartbroken to learn of the passing of our dear friend. As a lifelong San Franciscan, Richard was a powerful force for good in our city. Building a successful career in business, he constantly gave back to our city: whether as a patron of our arts, a donor to our food banks or a benefactor to our efforts to end homelessness.”

While noting the good that he did in his fundraising and support for Tibet, others said on Monday that his legacy would be more complex, especially when paired with his wife’s political legacy.

“He was a giver but also gained a lot, especially financially, through things that his wife did,” explained Val Sorrento, a San Franciscan financial analyst, to the Globe on Monday. “He did a lot of good, but it was continually tarnished by things like that or helping sneak kids into good colleges. In any case, it is sad and it will leave a hard to fill gap here.”

As of Monday, it is unknown if Blum’s death will have any influence on Senator Feinstein’s decision on if she will run again in 2024.

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2 thoughts on “Richard Blum, Controversial Husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Dies at 86

  1. Well he was infamous for gaining gov’t contracts with major underbidding followed up by huge increases — using inside info from Dianne…he was corrupted partner of Dianne – they will soon meet again in the firepit

  2. Yea!!!! ….. I mean, he only invested in a major metal detector manufacturer two months before the Milk Moscone killings created a market for city halls across the nation to start to buy metal detectors. Same thing with his investment in a bomb squad gear company. In 1972 there were exactly 2 bomb squads in the USA and then we had the Weather Underground and the SLA/CIA which put the LAPD SWAT on national television, and DiFi herself had a bomb sent to her in Stinson Beach by the CIA. Suddenly there were over 180 bomb squads nationwide that all had to buy their gear from Richard Blum.

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