He imported the first Volkswagens to the United States. He developed $7 billion worth of real estate. He painted more than 4,000 watercolors, most of them small-scale, which were shown in many gallery exhibitions. He won national championships in handball and squash and a squash tournament at 81.
Elmaleh was an Arabic-Moroccan name that his Sephardic Jewish ancestors had acquired after fleeing from the Spanish Inquisition to Morocco, then a French colony. The name Victor was chosen to commemorate the victory of France and its allies in World War I.
He was brought to Brooklyn in 1925 to join family members who had already established roots there. Later that year his parents moved back to Morocco, but he stayed behind with relatives because he wanted to attend school in New York.
Mr. Elmaleh’s first ambition was to be a concert pianist, and he majored in music at Brooklyn College. Then a ruptured appendix nearly killed him. Wanting a change of scenery, he enrolled at the University of Virginia, which offered few courses in music, so he majored in architecture. At Virginia he became reacquainted with Arthur Stanton, whom he had known in Brooklyn. Mr. Stanton and his brother, Frank (not the broadcasting executive), later joined Mr. Elmaleh and members of his family in many business ventures.
The chairman of World-Wide Group, a real estate development firm, says he will match every dollar raised up to $75,000 for the upcoming Hamptons Squash Week. The gift is in addition to the $100,000 the 1968 national doubles champion gave in 2006 to create one of the only public squash courts in the area, with his business partner James Stanton.
He has given $3 million to the 35-year-old Orchestra of St. Luke's, where he sits on the board, including $1.5 million toward a new rehearsal center dedicated to the classical music community. The 20,000-square-foot DiMenna Center for Classical Music, set to open in early 2011, will house St. Luke's orchestra, chamber ensemble and arts education program. It also plans to host a number of small and midsize arts organizations that don't have their own space.
Mr. Elmaleh and his wife of 67 years, Sono Osato, a dancer and Broadway actress, also support Career Transition for Dancers, a nonprofit that helps former dancers find new professions and the Concert Artists Guild, an arts nonprofit that holds an annual competition to identify and assist promising young musicians. The couple have provided numerous scholarships to individual dancers and musicians.
Besides his son Niko, Mr. Elmaleh, who had homes in Manhattan and in Bridgehampton, on Long Island, is survived by his wife; another son, Antonio; two brothers, Leonard and Stanley; and four grandchildren.more » « less