May 28, 2024
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Ojai Valley Inn owner dies in racetrack accident


James Crown, CEO and Chairman of the company that owns the Ojai Valley Inn, Aspen Skiing company and is a major shareholder in General Dynamics, died June 25 in a single-vehicle crash near Aspen.

Crown, who apparently was celebrating his 70th birthday, was alone in the vehicle at Aspen Motorsports Park near the resort town. He lived in Chicago but was a frequent visitor to Colorado where he also was chairman emeritus of the Aspen Institute.

The Crown Family purchased the Ojai Valley Inn in 1985 which was the same year the Crown Family purchased a 50% stake in Aspen Skiing Co. It subsequently spent $50 million on a major renovation at the Ojai Valley Inn which is celebrating 100 years in 2023.

With around 600 employees, the Inn is by far the largest employer in the Ojai Valley. The Inn’s estimated $60 million in revenue also generates a substantial percentage of the lodging and other tax revenue for the City of Ojai.

One of the largest hotels in the region, the Inn’s centennial celebration included an Ojai Food & Wine Festival mirroring a highly successful event in Aspen.

Over the years, the Crown family gained 100% control over the Aspen Skiing Co. and expanded its hotel holdings with the creation of Limelight Hotels which operates in four western cities.

In addition to serving as CEO and Chair of Henry Crown and Co., the family’s flagship company, Crown served on the boards of JP Morgan Chase and General Dynamics. He was a close advisor to the Obama administration and served on a national intelligence panel.   

The Business Times reached out to the company for comment. In an earlier statement, the company asked for “their privacy to be respected at this difficult time.”

Crown is the grandson of founder Henry Crown. He is survived by his parents, his wife and four children.