Sidney Harman, stereo pioneer and philanthropist, died last night at the age of 92. Harman split time between Washington, D.C., and L.A. — where he and wife, former Congresswoman Jane Harman, kept a home in Venice.
Harman's passing leaves a question mark over Newsweek, which he bought last year for $1. No one has said who will inherit the struggling newsweekly, though you'd figure that Jane Harman would be one of the heirs, along with the couple's children.
When Newsweek was sold, the Harmans made it clear that Jane Harman — then still in Congress — would have no role in running the magazine. She retired from Congress in January after eight terms to run a Washington-based think tank.
At Forbes, Jeff Bercovici mulls what this could mean for Newsweek, which recently merged with Barry Diller's Daily Beast:
According to Diller, Harman reiterated his family's commitment to the magazine three weeks ago, after learning of his diagnosis. But Harman also said publicly that he was prepared to lose up to $40 million in the effort to turn Newsweek around. Will his heirs have that sort of commitment? And, if they don't, will Diller be willing to take up the slack?
Harman's turn as a media mogul was only his most recent incarnation. He started out as an audio engineer and founded Harman/Kardon, which revolutionized home stereos in the 1950s.
He became a philanthropist, funding cultural institutions in Washington D.C. He also funded Democratic political causes, not least of which was Jane Harman's unsuccessful run for governor of California in 1998.