David H. Murdock

David Howard Murdock (born April 11, 1923) is an American billionaire businessman and philanthropist.

David H. Murdock
David Murdock in 1985
David Howard Murdock

(1923-04-11) April 11, 1923
OccupationChairman and CEO of Dole Food Company
Founder of the California Health and Longevity Institute (CHLI)[1]
Owner of Castle & Cooke
--Owner of Pacific Clay
Net worth US$ 3.0 billion (August 2016)[2]
Gabriele Murdock
(m. 1967; died 1985)

Tracy Murdock[3] (m. 1999)
ChildrenEugene Murdock (deceased)
David Murdock Jr.[4] (deceased)
Justin Murdock

Early career

Murdock was born on April 11, 1923, in Kansas City, Missouri.[5] His father was a traveling salesman, while his mother took up laundry and scrubbed floors to make ends meet. He is the middle child of three; he had two sisters. He was particularly close to his mother, who died at 42 from cancer.[6] He grew up in Montgomery Township, Ohio, and dropped out of high school in the 9th grade.[7][8] He was drafted by the United States Army in 1943 during World War II.

After relocating to Detroit after the war, Murdock was homeless and destitute. Due to a chance encounter with a good samaritan, however, he got a $1,200 loan to buy a closing diner, flipping it for a $700 profit ten months later.[9] He moved to Phoenix, Arizona, and began working there first in housing and then commercial real estate.

When the real estate market collapsed in the 1960s, he moved to Los Angeles where he continued developing real estate opportunities, leading to a string of acquisitions. In 1978 he acquired control of International Mining. In early 1980s he became the largest shareholder in L.A. based Occidental Petroleum, by selling the corporation his 18% share of the Iowa Beef Packers company.[6]


Murdock owned Cannon Mills in Kannapolis, North Carolina, from 1982, after the death of Charles Cannon, until 1985, when he sold the company to Fieldcrest.[10]

In 1985 Murdock took over the nearly bankrupt Hawaiian firm Castle & Cooke, which owned pineapple and banana producer Dole Food Company. He developed Castle & Cooke's real estate portfolio into residential and commercial properties and turned Dole into the world's largest producer of fruits and vegetables.[11] Acquiring Dole privately in 2003, Murdock completed a $446 million initial public offering in October 2009 and the company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker DOLE until a private merger agreement was approved October 31, 2013.[12] As a result of his purchase of Castle & Cooke, Murdock acquired ownership of 98% of Lana'i, the sixth largest island in Hawaii. In June 2012 Murdock sold his interest in Lana'i to Larry Ellison.[13] He owns other companies, including Pacific Clay.[11]


He has helped contribute to the redevelopment of a 5,800,000-square-foot (540,000 m2) complex in Kannapolis, North Carolina, of a biotechnology research center, the North Carolina Research Campus.[6] The research center is a joint public-private venture, involving major North Carolina universities and private investment. The site of the research center in the middle of Kannapolis was formerly occupied by Plant #1 of Cannon Mills (which became Pillowtex after a series of mergers and acquisitions).[14] Pillowtex filed for bankruptcy in 2003, and closed the mill. This resulted in the largest mass layoff of workers in North Carolina history. Murdock acquired the site and demolished the mill in 2006.[15]

Since the death of his third wife, Gabriele,[16] he has been involved to finding a cure for cancer, advancing nutrition, and life extension.[1] He established the Dole Nutrition Institute to advocate the benefits of a plant-based diet to promote health and prevent disease. With the help of UCLA, he oversaw the writing of the Encyclopedia of Foods, A Guide to Healthy Nutrition. In 2006, he opened the California Health and Longevity Institute (CHLI).[1]

Personal life

He has been married five times. In 1967, he married his third wife, Gabriele; they had two children together and he also adopted her son from a previous marriage, Eugene. Gabriele was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1983 and died in 1985.[17] A year later, Eugene died after hitting his head while swimming in the family estate's swimming pool. In 2004 his son David Jr. died in an auto accident on the Santa Monica Freeway.[18] His remaining son Justin serves as CEO and executive chairman of NovaRx and is senior vice president of investments for Castle & Cooke. Previously, he was a director at the Dole Food Company, as well as their audit and finance committee until his retirement on May 17, 2013.[19] In 2011, Forbes ranked David Sr. as the 190th-richest person in the "Forbes 400" list and 613th in the "World's Billionaires" list, with a net worth of US$2.4 billion as of March 2013.[6][7]


  1. Hammers, Maryann (1 November 2007). "The Wellness Question". Ventana. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  2. Forbes: The World's Billionaires - David Murdock August 2016
  3. "Can't Buy Me Love". Forbes. Retrieved November 11, 2013.
  4. "Dole Food Chairman's Son Killed in Crash". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  5. Bruni, Frank (3 March 2011). "The Billionaire Who Is Planning His 125th Birthday". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  6. "David Murdock". Forbes. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  7. "Gates Buys Into Pineapple Paradise". Forbes. July 13, 2000. Retrieved January 6, 2010.
  8. Source BBC GlobalBiz Podcast : Food for Thought 01 Feb 2010
  9. Jenkins, Scott (September 16, 2004). "Murdock buys Pillowtex plant ... again". Salisbury Post. Archived from the original on January 8, 2017. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
  10. Knap, Chris (January 24, 2011). "State: Elsinore failed to regulate mines owned by legendary developer David Murdock". The Orange County Register. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  11. Carter, Michael (November 1, 2013). "David H. Murdock Completes Acquisition of Dole Food Company, Inc". Business Wire. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  12. Rich Meiers (June 21, 2012). "Oracle's Larry Ellison to buy Lanai". Hawaii News Now. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
  13. "The history and culture of Kannapolis". independenttribune.net. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  14. "Official Pillowtex, LLC to be Acquired by Iconix Brand Group, Inc". sbcapitalgroup.com. Archived from the original on August 26, 2014. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  15. "Gabriele Murdock, Wife of Financier, Is Dead at Age 43". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  16. "Gabriele Murdock, 43, ActiveIn Several Art Organizations". The New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  17. "David Murdock Jr. Obituary". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  18. "U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Report". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved November 11, 2013.
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