Byram N. Jeejeebhoy, one of Mumbai’s largest private landlords and descendant of the 19th century philanthropists Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy and Byramjee Jeejeebhoy, passed away at his Worli residence in Mumbai on Tuesday morning. He was 75. The funeral at the Worli crematorium later in the day was attended only by a small group of friends and relatives.
Article by Nauzer K Bharucha | Times of India
Family sources said he had been ailing for the past few years. “Byram was a bon vivant, an accomplished violinist, astute businessman, art collector and a prominent race horse owner,’’ said an associate who knew him for several decades. He also counted some of Maharashtra’s top politicians as his close friends.
Jee Jee, as he was known in his circle of friends, divided his time between London, Dubai and Mumbai. But Mumbai was home for him; the office of the Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Group, which he headed, is in the heart of the city’s commercial business district of Nariman Point. He was also co-owner of Royal China, an upscale Chinese restaurant in south Mumbai.
In 2008, he contested the Bombay Parsi Punchayat (BPP) elections as part of a group of prominent Parsis called the Adult Franchise for Progress. However, the group lost the elections.
Despite his varied interests, Byram was also a property developer; he co-developed the Fantasy Land amusement park in Jogeshwari. As one of Mumbai’s biggest private landlord, Byram controlled a 550-acre land near the Oshiwara creek. Two decades ago, his group tied up with the Sahara Group to convert it into a golf course, villas and club house but ran into litigation and opposition from activists and environmentalists. The land was recently freed for construction under the city’s new development plan.
The family business house of Sir Byramjee Jeejeebhoy owned estate spread over seven villages between Jogeshwari and Borivali and spread over 2,000 acres. However, most of the land parcels were encroached by slum dwellers over the decades.
His forefather, Sir Byramjee Jeejeebhoy was gifted these seven villages by the East India Company, totalling 12,000 acres in the early 19th century. He also owned Bandra Land’s End where the Taj Hotel is now located. Thakur Complex in Kandivli and Lokhandwala Complex in Oshiwara came up on land belonging to the Jeejeebhoys.