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Dan David, A Pioneer In Automatic Photo Machines, Dies

Posted On: 9/8/2011

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Dan David

LONDON -- Businessman and philanthropist Dan David died on Sept. 5 in a London hospital after a serious illness. He was 82.

David prospered in the photobooth business, starting his career in the early 1960s by purchasing a franchise from Photo-Me International with a $200,000 loan from a French businessman who became his partner for many years. David eventually became the principal shareholder in Photo-Me.

David served on the Photo-Me board from 1968 to 2007, holding the title of executive chairman twice and nonexecutive chairman once, and from July 2009 as a nonexecutive director. In 2005, Photo-Me honored the automatic photo machine pioneer with the title Life President of the Company.

When David was chairman of Photo-Me in 1999, the value of his and board member Serge Crasnianski's shares were reportedly valued at £210 million and £200 million, respectively.

He was also the founder of the Dan David Prize, which awards three $1 million prizes annually to people who contribute to human achievement in the realms of past, present and future. To support the philanthropic program, David created a foundation with $100 million endowment. The first prizes were awarded in 2002.

Born in Romania, David had been a member of a Zionist youth movement. He became a press photographer after finishing his university studies in economics. In 1958, his newspaper asked him to go to West Germany on an assignment. When he requested an exit permit from the Romanian secret police, his past as a Zionist was revealed and the newspaper fired him. He left Romania for France in 1960 and later settled in Israel.

"Dan was a charming man who continued to work with tremendous energy, despite his advancing years," said Crasnianski, Photo-Me's chief executive. "He contributed more than anyone to the growth of the group from the 1960s to the 1990s, and continued to be a wise and respected colleague. Our thoughts are with his wife and son at this time."

David is survived by his wife, Gabriela, and a son, Ariel.