Born and raised in the Midwest, Bruce Karatz rose from a middle class family to become chairman and CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Through it all, he has consistently contributed with philanthropic efforts all over the world. Karatz is now the owner of BK Capital LLC and co-founder of Nafilyan & Partners, a Paris-based real estate development company. Karatz formed this company with Guy Nafilyan, his longtime associate at Kaufman & Broad.
Karatz’s story begins in Chicago, Illinois, where he was born to a middle class Jewish family in 1945. The family would relocate to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he would spend his formative years as a son of a movie theater owner. After graduating from high school in 1963, he would head off for a bachelor’s degree from Boston University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Southern California. By 1970, his formal education was completed and he began working full-time.
The first major stage of Karatz’s professional life began in 1972, when he would become associate general counsel for Kaufman & Broad. From 1972 to 2005, Karatz held numerous positions at the company, including CEO from 1986-2006. He was able to oversee the company during its peak performance, as it grew from a small, Southern California-based home building company to a Fortune 500 company known all around the world as KB Home.
As enjoyable as his business career has been up to this point in his life, Karatz takes more pride in his philanthropic efforts all over the world. His first major effort centered around the aftermath of the Los Angeles riots in 1992. Karatz and Kaufman & Broad headlined the effort to rebuild Camp Hollywoodland for inner-city children. The rustic canyon retreat was ruined due to a fire during the riot, and thanks to the company’s help rebuilding the main camp building, it was up and running soon after.
Many of his philanthropic efforts have taken place in Southern California, but the company also helped out extensively with Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans during the mid-2000s. Throughout his tenure, Karatz served on many boards and made sure that the company always helped to improve surrounding areas in their times of need.
Currently, Karatz is married to Lilly Tartikoff, a cancer activist who co-founded the Revlon Run/Walk events in New York and Los Angeles each year. She herself has raised over $80 million for cancer research through her efforts. He has a total of three adult children, two stepchildren and six grandchildren.