Diamond Jim Brady
- Category : Entrepreneur
- Type : GP
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Split - Small (1)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Explanation 3
James Buchanan Brady (August 12, 1856 – April 13, 1917), also known as Diamond Jim Brady, was an American businessman, financier, and philanthropist of the Gilded Age.
Life and career
Born in New York City to a modest household, Brady worked his way up from bellhop and courier. After gaining employment in the New York Central Railroad system, he became the chief assistant to the general manager by the age of 21. At 23, Brady parlayed his knowledge of the rail transport industry and its officials to become a highly successful salesman for Manning, Maxwell and Moore, a railroad supply company. In 1899 he became Sales Agent for the Pressed Steel Car Company.
Known for his penchant for jewels, especially diamonds, he collected precious stones and jewelry in excess of US$ 2 million (adjusted for 2005 dollars, approx. $50 million).
Brady's enormous appetite was as legendary as his wealth, though modern experts believe it was greatly exaggerated. It was not unusual, according to the legend, for Brady to eat enough food for ten people at a sitting. George Rector, owner of a favorite restaurant, described Brady as "the best 25 customers I ever had."
"Diamond Jim" is known for his longtime relationship with actress and singer Lillian Russell. It is said that her eating habits were a perfect match for his own.
A gregarious man, Brady was a mainstay of Broadway nightlife. He often dined with popular society. After further investments in the stock market, Brady accumulated wealth estimated at $12 million, though not always by ethical means. According to one anecdote:
"On election night (1896), biographer Harry Paul Jeffers writes, Brady won about $180,000 (about $4.7 million today) by making crooked bets on the William McKinley-William Jennings Bryan presidential election." He also enriched himself to the tune of $1.25 million (about $33 million today) through a shady stock deal involving the Reading Railroad.
He was known for being the first person in New York City to own an automobile (in 1895).
Brady donated a significant sum in 1912 to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, where he had once been treated. The hospital created the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute in his honor.
Brady died in his sleep on April 13, 1917, of a heart attack.
Brady had never married, and after his death his estate was distributed to many institutions, most notably New York Hospital. When his body was examined, doctors discovered that his stomach was six times the size of that of an average person.
Brady was the inspiration for a 1935 film written by Preston Sturges entitled Diamond Jim and might have inspired a character called "Big Jim" in the Bob Dylan song, "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts."
Brady is mentioned in an episode of I Love Lucy (S04E01), to describe a very frugal person.
Brady's appetite is immortalized at Lawry's Prime Rib Restaurants with a 16 ounce, two-inch-thick prime rib.