Texas billionaire and philanthropist Charles Wyly, whose family donated millions of dollars to Republican causes and Dallas arts projects, has died after a car accident in western Colorado, authorities say. He was 77. Wyly, who maintained a home near Aspen, was turning onto a highway near the local airport when his Porsche was hit by a sport utility vehicle yesterday. Wyly died at Aspen Valley Hospital, while the other driver suffered moderate injuries.
In Texas, Wyly and his younger brother, Sam, along with their wives, gave $20 million to help build Dallas' performing arts center. They also donated big, but quietly, to Republican causes: The brothers had said they'd given about $10 million to GOP candidates and causes since the 1970s. After working for IBM, Wyly helped his brother run their startup computer software company, University Computing, and later founded and led several other companies including arts and crafts retail chain Michaels, which was sold in 2006. Last summer, the SEC accused Wyly and his brother of using offshore havens to hide more than a half-billion dollars in profits over 13 years of insider stock trading. The brothers denied and were fighting the allegations.