Howard Solomon dies, 94; His commercial success had a personal relationship


The company denied the allegations. In a statement issued at the time, Mr. Solomon said: “We remain committed to ensuring that we operate in full compliance with all laws and regulations.”

In 2011, Forest Labs won a proxy battle against shareholder activist Carl C. Icahn, who argued that the company had lost billions of dollars in shareholder value over the past decade. Mr. Icahn continued to pursue Forest Labs in a second proxy fight in 2012, which ended with the election of one of his nominees to the company’s board of directors.

In a letter to Mr. Icahn during that battle, Mr. Solomon wrote: “Your speech thus far showed a blatant lack of strategic ideas. Instead, it was filled with wild and baseless accusations, allusions and distortions of facts.”

However, at some point, Mr. Solomon reached out to Mr. Icahn, and they set up a series of dinners.

“We became friendly,” Mr. Icahn said in a phone interview. “I thought he was a nice guy, a polite guy.” He added, “I didn’t necessarily agree with the way he ran the company, but he was a nice guy who was happy with the result. He made a lot of money.”

In 2013, Mr. Solomon announced his retirement as CEO and was replaced by Brent Saunders, an executive friend with Mr. Icahn. Then, in early 2014, Actavis (now Allergan) paid $25 billion to acquire Forest Laboratories. Mr. Solomon, who was still Chairman of the Board of Directors, left after the acquisition and formed a family investment business with his youngest son, David, who was the CEO of Forest Labs and who is also surviving.

In addition to his children, Mr. Solomon is survived by his wife, Sarah Billinghurst Solomon, former Assistant Director General for Technical Affairs at the Metropolitan Opera, and five grandchildren. His first wife, Caroline (Bauer) Solomon, died in 1991.

Mr. Solomon had extensive philanthropic interests, particularly opera. As a teenager, he paid for piano lessons at the Manhattan School of Music by selling librettos to patrons of the Old Metropolitan Opera on 39th Street and Broadway. He later became chairman of the Met Finance Committee, president of the New York City Ballet and a member of the Lincoln Center board of directors.

He said that his desire to work into his 80s was inspired by the example of Giuseppe Verdi.

“Growing up, he was talking about Verdi writing Falstaff in his 80s,” Andrew Solomon said. “Imagine,” he would say, “in his 80s, he wrote some of the greatest music he’s ever written.” This was the path he was hoping to take.”


Leave a Comment