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Paula Crown, left, and James Crown, right, attend the Museum of Modern Art's Party in the Garden benefit on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

James “Jim” Crown, the 70-year-old businessman, socialite and member of the billionaire Crown family who owns Aspen Skiing Co., died Sunday in a crash at the Aspen Motorsports Park in Woody Creek.

The Pitkin County Coroner’s Office says he collided with an impact barrier at the member-owned, country club motorsports park. The club’s website says it offers a track for racing cars as well as a go-kart track.

“The official cause of death is pending autopsy although multiple blunt force trauma is evident,” the coroner’s office said in a news release. “The manner is accident.”

The crash is being investigated by the coroner’s office, as well as the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado State Patrol. A spokesman for the State Patrol said the agency was called to the scene at about 2:45 p.m.

“Due to the ongoing investigation, no further details will be released at this time,” the news release said.


At the time of his death, Crown — who lived in Chicago but frequented Colorado — was the chairman emeritus of the board overseeing the Aspen Institute, which this week is hosting the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen. He was also a managing partner of Aspen Skiing Co.

He was the grandson of industrialist Henry Crown and served as director of General Dynamic Corp. and JPMorgan Chase. 

NBC News once called Crown a member of former President Barack Obama’s “inner circle.” Obama appointed Crown in 2014 to serve on his intelligence advisory board. Then-First Lady Michelle Obama stayed at Crown’s Aspen home in 2014 during a ski vacation.

The Crown family purchased half of Aspen Skiing Co. in 1985 and bought out other owners in 1993. In 2017 the family partnered with Denver’s KSL Capital Partners to create Alterra Mountain Co. Aspen Skiing in recent years expanded into hospitality with its Limelight Hotels in Aspen, Snowmass, Denver and Ketchum, Idaho.

Aspen Skiing Co. in 2021 launched its Aspen X brand with branded retail and apparel created in part by James Crown’s wife, Paula.

“The Crown family is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Jim Crown in an accident earlier today,” Aspen Skiing Co. said in a written statement released Sunday. “The family requests that their privacy be respected at this difficult time. Further details regarding plans for a memorial to remember Jim’s remarkable life will be released at a later date.”

Crown is survived by his wife, as well as four children. He is also survived by his parents. 

The Aspen Daily News reports Sunday was Crown’s 70th birthday.

Jason Blevins lives in Eagle with his wife, two teenage girls and a dog named Gravy. He writes The Outsider, a weekly newsletter covering the outdoors industry from the inside out. Topic expertise: Western Slope, public lands, outdoors,...

The Colorado Sun — Desk: 720-432-2229 Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated...