Charles Wyly, Co-Founder of Michaels Stores, Dies after Car Crash
Billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Charles Wyly, co-founder and former chairman of arts and crafts retail chain Michaels Stores Inc., died Sunday after suffering injuries in a car crash in Colorado. He was 77.
About 10:50 a.m. Sunday, Wyly was driving a blue Porsche Targa in Pitkin County, Colo., when a Ford Freestyle struck the driver’s side of the Porsche, according to the Colorado State Patrol. Wyly was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital, where he died shortly after noon. He owned a ranch in Woody Creek, near Aspen.
The driver of the Ford, Genezi Lacerda of Snowmass Village, Colo., suffered moderate injuries.
Wyly and his brother, Sam, bought a controlling interest in Michaels in 1982; the brothers are listed as co-founders of Michaels. Today, the chain has more than 1,000 stores in the United States and Canada. Affiliates of two private investment firms, Bain Capital Partners LLC and The Blackstone Group LP, bought the majority of Michaels’ common stock in 2006 for about $6 billion.
In fiscal 2010, Michaels Stores posted revenue of more than $4 billion. Michaels is based in the Dallas suburb of Irving. Aside from Michaels retail outlets, the company operates 136 Aaron Brothers stores, which sell custom frames, picture frames and art supplies.
Among the Wyly brothers’ other business interests were:
• Bonanza Steakhouse, which they bought in 1967 and sold in 1989.
• Sterling Software Inc., which they founded in 1981 and sold in 2000 for $4 billion.
Charles Wyly also co-founded Maverick Capital Ltd., an investment management firm; Earth Resources Co., an oil refining and mining company; and Green Mountain Energy Co., a provider of green energy. In 2010, the Wyly brothers and other stockholders sold Green Mountain Energy to NRG Energy Inc. for $350 million.
Wyly was involved in numerous philanthropic efforts in Dallas. For instance, he was a member of the board of directors of the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas. The Wyly family donated $20 million to help build the center, which includes the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre.
Mark Weinstein, president and CEO of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, said Wyly “has left behind a tremendous legacy here in Dallas.”
In 2010, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused the Wyly brothers of illegally pocketing more than $550 million from selling stock in four public companies where they were corporate directors, including Michaels Stores and Sterling Software. The Wyly brothers have denied the charges.
Outside business and philanthropic circles, the Wyly brothers are known for their contributions to Republican political candidates and causes.