remembering fayez sarofim

Pioneering Houston billionaire and financial titan Fayez Sarofim passes away in Houston at 93

Pioneering Houston billionaire Fayez Sarofim passes away at 93

News, Shelby, Museum of Fine Arts gala, Oct. 2015, Susan Sarofim, Fayez Sarofim
Fayez Sarofim leaves behind wife Susan Sarofim. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com

A titan of Houston finance and society has died. Fayez Sarofim, the mastermind of his eponymous investment firm and a familiar local benefactor, passed away at his River Oaks home on Friday, May 27. He was 93. Current PaperCity and former CultureMap society editor Shelby Hodge was first to report the news.

His vast fortune is currently valued by Forbes at $1.6 billion, while his firm currently manages more than $31 billion in assets.

Nicknamed “The Sphinx” for his quiet, regal demeanor, rare public comment, and elite Egyptian heritage and pedigree, Sarofim was born in 1929 in Cairo to a prominent and Coptic-American aristocratic family. He arrived in the U.S. in 1946, became a naturalized citizen in 1961, and earned degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Business School, per his bio.

After a stint at Houston firm Anderson, Clayton and Company in Houston, he founded Fayez Sarofim & Company in 1958. He quickly developed a reputation for a keen sense for soon-to-explode stocks, which he would acquire and almost never sell.

He married Louisa Stude, daughter of Brown and Root founder Herman Brown, in 1962; the couple welcomed children Christopher and Allison Sarofim. In 1990, he married Linda Hicks.

As Hodge reported for CultureMap in 2015, Sarofim — a confirmed bachelor for some 15 years — married the charismatic Susan Krohn in Hawaii. A constantly smiling, welcoming presence, Susan Sarofim was the perfect partner for the reserved, always dapper Sarofim at A-list events and functions — even when he was later bound to a wheelchair. Hodge noted that the man who was always spotted in exquisitely tailored British suits never sported a public smile — until he married Susan.

Sarofim was a noted art collector and benefactor; as CultureMap reported in 2020, he led gifting for an arts facility at Rice University, while his $70 million gift to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston created what is now the Susan and Fayez S. Sarofim Campus. 

The most elegant and fashionable tennis tournament in Houston also bears his name, as does the award-winning research building at UT Health in the Med Center. 

He leaves behind his wife Susan, children Christopher, Allison, Andrew, and Phillip and their families, a host of extended family, and a storied reputation as a barrier-shattering, pioneering Houston financial giant.