JEWELRY ENTREPRENEUR FORTUNOFF DEAD AT 67
Byline: Melanie Kletter
NEW YORK — Alan Fortunoff, president and chief executive officer of the Fortunoff chain, died Wednesday of complications from cancer at his home in Old Westbury, N.Y., according to the company. He was 67.
Fortunoff is credited with expanding the small housewares store his parents founded into a jewelry and gift chain with locations in Manhattan, Long Island and New Jersey.
Born in Brooklyn, Fortunoff started his retail career sweeping the floor and assisting customers at his family’s housewares store on Livonia Avenue. His parents, Max and Clara, opened the store in 1922.
Fortunoff graduated from New York University with a degree in business, and also held a law degree and an advanced degree in international law from NYU.
The company opened a store on East 57th Street Manhattan in the early Seventies, devoted exclusively to jewelry and silver. That store was eventually replaced in 1979 with a new jewelry and silver store on Fifth Avenue and 54th Street, which carries antique and estate silver.
There are four other mall-based stores, located in Wayne Town Center in Wayne, N.J.; Woodbridge Center in Woodbridge, N.J.; Paramus Park Mall, Paramus, N.J.; and The Mall at The Source in Westbury, N.Y., where a Baby Fortunoff opened recently.
While the chain is best known for its jewelry and tabletop items, some stores also carry seasonal items such as outdoor furniture, and a freestanding Fortunoff furniture store is located on Route 17 in Paramus. The company also sells its products online.
The Fortunoff family issued a statement in which they said, “His compassion as a human being, his love for his family and his energy and acumen as a retail innovator and entrepreneur created a legacy that will stand as personal testament for generations to come. The management depth and executive culture he helped create will not only sustain Fortunoff today, but allow it to continue to grow in the years to come.”
Gedalio Grinberg, chairman of the Movado Group, said Thursday, “I knew him for many years, and he was a man with high integrity who really built something out of a small store. He was an extraordinary man who was very passionate about educational causes and nature.”
Fortunoff, well known in retail and philanthropic circles, was a trustee of the NYU Law Center Foundation and a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council of Stern School of Business. He was the benefactor of the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University, and was also active in the Old Westbury Gardens, The Nature Conservancy of Long Island, and the Association for a Better Long Island.
He is survived by his wife, Helene; four daughters, Esther, Ruth, Andrea and Rhonda; two sons, Louis and David, and two grandchildren. All his children except Rhonda are active in the company.