A Chicago billionaire with close ties to President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama died Sunday in a car crash on a racetrack in Aspen, Colorado, according to The Wall Street Journal.
James Crown, 70, a director of JPMorgan Chase, was chairman of the Aspen Institute, which is hosting its annual festival in the area.
“The official cause of death is pending autopsy although multiple blunt force trauma is evident. The manner is accident,” the coroner’s office said in a statement.
“Jim represented America at its best — industrious, big-hearted, and always looking out for each other. He was a good man, a dear friend, and a great American,” the president said.
“Jim lived a great Chicago story — one that tied our nation’s industrious past to an ever-hopeful future. He grew up the great-grandson of a sweatshop worker whose son turned a construction-supply company into an empire. Throughout his own career as a business and civic leader, Jim continued to drive that legacy forward, bring out the best in his peers, and help shape the city he loved,” Biden said.
Obama also eulogized him Monday on Twitter, saying, “Jim Crown was a pillar of Chicago who cared deeply about making our city a place where everybody can thrive. Michelle and I were also very lucky to call him a dear friend. We’re heartbroken today, and we send our love to Paula and their wonderful family in this difficult time.”
Prior to Obama’s election to the White House, Crown was referred to by NBC News as part of “the core of Obama’s inner circle.”
The Colorado Sun noted that during a 2014 ski vacation, Michelle Obama stayed at Crown’s home in Aspen.
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson issued a statement on Crown’s death, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.
“I was devastated to hear of Jim Crown’s tragic passing this weekend,” Johnson said. “A lifelong Chicagoan, Jim gave back to the city through philanthropy and leadership on a number of civic and academic boards as he was deeply committed to investing in Chicago and its people. With his generosity, Jim truly embodied the soul of Chicago.
“I was especially grateful for his commitment to work collaboratively with my administration to build a safer Chicago, having met recently to share ideas. I send my deepest condolences to his wife, four children, grandchildren, and the entire Crown family and pray for their peace.”