The morning of 9th June, 2020, marked the passing of 75-year-old Byram N. Jeejeebhoy – the descendant of philanthropists Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy and Byramjee Jeejeebhoy; and great, great grandson to Sir Jeejeebhoy Jamshedji or Sir JJ, after who is named the ‘JJ Hospital’, the ‘JJ School of Arts’ and more recently, the ‘JJ Flyover’.
One of the city’s largest private landlords, Byram Jeejeebhoy breathed his last at his Worli residence in Mumbai, after battling a deteriorating health condition for a few years. The funeral was held at the Worli crematorium later in the day, attended by a small group of relatives and close friends, in keeping with the government-mandated requisites.
Known as ‘Jee Jee’ amongst his friends, Byram was known for his flamboyance and hobnobbed with some of the top politicians and businessmen. He was an astute businessman and art collector and was passionate about horses, being a prominent race-horse owner himself. He headed the Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Group (located at Nariman Point in South Mumbai) and co-owned the high-end Chinese eatery, ‘Royal China’.
The family business house of Sir Byramjee Jeejeebhoy-owned estates, was spread across 2,000 acres, over seven villages between Jogeshwari and Borivali, but a good part of it was unfortunately encroached upon by slum dwellers for 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, including Bandra Land’s End; Thakur Complex in Kandivli and Lokhandwala Complex in Oshiwara. As a property developer, he co-developed Fantasy Land Amusement Park (Jogeshwari, Mumbai) and also shared a business partnership with the Sahara Group.
In 2008, Byram contested the Bombay Parsi Punchayat (BPP) elections as a member of the Adult Franchise for Progress (AFP7) group, comprising eminent Parsis including legal luminary Nadir Modi; Director of Tata Memorial Hospital – Dr. Katy Dinshaw; MD of HDFC – Keki Mistry; Media Baron – Muncherji Cama; former BPP Trustee Maneck Engineer; and current BPP Trustee, Noshir Dadrawala. “I too was honoured and privileged to be invited as a member of this distinguished panel. I have fond memories of interacting with Byram at that time. He was well versed in matters of charity and governance of trusts. He was gracious, witty, humorous and charming. It’s a pity that the community did not value such amazing human resources,” shared Noshir Dadrawala in his tribute.
An alumni of the Bishops School in Pune, Byram’s lifestyle saw him constantly on the move – with London and Dubai forming his mainstays, apart from Mumbai. He knew how to live it up and was known for his larger than life lifestyle. In addition to his zeal for horses, he was passionate about golf, cars and his children – Janine and Jamshed. He owned nearly a dozen racehorses and was always jetsetting off to some of the world’s best golfing greens. The number-plate of his swanky, champagne-coloured Mercedes was ‘JiJi400’!
While his wife Mehroo had been an accomplished concert pianist, Byram himself was an excellent violinist, with a Licentiate diploma from The Trinity College of Music, London. Another hobby that he was enthusiastic about was cooking. He was also an ardent collector and was known to attend auctions across Europe; he possessed a collection of violins and bows, watches and clocks, old prints of Bombay and Indian contemporary art, which lined the walls of his London home.
Keeping alive his family’s noble commitment to philanthropy, Byram Jeejeebhoy always made time for charity and social causes. He was the Chair of the Asha Foundation in London and a Trustee of the Colaba Agiary. May his soul attain Garothman Behest!