Barron Hilton, son of Conrad Hilton, died of natural death at his home in Las Vegas at the age of 91 on Thursday, September 19, 2019. He was an grandfather of a well-known Paris and Nicky Hilton, but first and foremost a brilliant entrepreneur and philanthropist.
At Hilton Hotels Corp. he spent five decades skillfully, of which he served as CEO for thirty years. During his influence, this Californian company has become the fifth largest hotel chain in the United States and when the company was acquired by the second largest player in the market, Blackstone Group Inc., in 2007, the Hilton family business was worth $ 26 billion – including debt. Today the business is called Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the value of Barron Hilton’s assets was staggering $ 1.25 billion.
Indeed, Hilton’s business and managerial past is impressive.
William Barron Hilton was born on October 23, 1927 in Dallas, the son of Conrad Hilton and Mary Barron. According to The Hiltons (J. Randy Taraborrelli, 2014), his parents divorced when he was only eight years old. Later in 1942 his father married Zsa Zsa Gaborovou. Barron had two brothers, Eric and Conrad, and interestingly, Conrad married Elizabeth Taylor in 1950. Barron witnessed them, but the couple divorced within a year.
In his own words, he had a “mistaken youth”, and for various reasons he was thrown out of four or five schools. He said this in an interview with People Magazine in 1981. In the same interview, he said that you were not very close to your father, who began building a hotel empire in Texas in 1919. At that time young Hilton left school and began serving in the Navy States as a helper (or just a friend?) of the photographer.
Still, he became vice president of Hilton Hotels in 1954.
In the 1960s, he oversaw the development of the Carte Blanche credit card, which his company sold in 1966 for $ 12 million to First National City Bank, the predecessor of today’s Citigroup Inc.
In the early 1970s he oversaw the acquisition of the Flamingo Hotel and Las Vegas International, later renamed the Las Vegas Hilton. With this step, Hilton Hotels became the first company of its kind to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange, which also focused on the gaming industry. Hilton also operated casinos.
As chairman of Hilton, he worked with CEO Stephen Bollenbach to expand their own casinos in Mississippi and Atlantic City, New Jersey, and was one of the initiators of the acquisition of Bally Entertainment Corp. for about $ 3 billion in 1996. Two years later, Hilton’s management separated its other activities from the gaming industry.
The current market value of Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. ( NYSE: HLT ) is US $ 27.31 billion, with stock prices mostly rising to US $ 95.22 over the past twelve months.
When Conrad Hilton, the founder of the empire, died in 1979, he donated a large part of his property for charity. The Church and other charities have received a significant portion of the funds. However, Barron challenged his father’s last will and, after several years reached 34% of the company’s shares.
In 2007, Barron Hilton announced that he would follow his father’s example and donate up to 97 percent of the property to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. It should be about $ 6.3 billion. The Foundation helps people in need in various life situations, from homeless people to people with difficult access to drinking water.
His descendants, however, certainly will not leave. He had eight children, 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, including Paris Hilton (38) and Nicky Hilton (35).