Fayez Shalaby Sarofim was born in 1929 in Cairo, into Egyptian nobility. As the son of an Egyptian aristocrat and agricultural magnate, Sarofim lived a life among Egypt's political and wealthy elite, in modern Heliopolis. As a Bey equivalent to European peerage title Marquess, Sarofim's Father held large feudal and Egyptian cotton estates throughout North Africa. Sarofim came to the United States in 1946 and became a naturalized American citizen in 1961. After, earning degrees from the University of California Berkeley, and Harvard Business School, Sarofim took a job with cotton company Anderson, Clayton in Houston.
In August 1958, he founded Fayez Sarofim & Company, a Houston investment firm. In 1997, he was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame. Sarofim is ranked third on the most influential Egyptian Americans. The Sarofim family is recorded in Burke's Peerage and the 'Imperial and Asiatic quarterly review and oriental and colonial record'.
Sarofim has been married three times. In 1962, he married Louisa Stude, adopted daughter of Herman Brown, founder of Brown and Root; they had two children: Christopher Sarofim and Allison Sarofim.
In 1984, he had a son, Andrew Sarofim, with Linda Hicks, a former employee at his company. In 1986, they had another son, Phillip Sarofim; and in 1989, she had another child with a different Father whom Sarofim adopted. In 1990, he divorced his first wife who received a $250 million divorce settlement. In 1990, he married Hicks; in 1996, they divorced with Hicks receiving a $12 million settlement. Hicks later died while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
His philanthropic efforts provide vital assistance to critical institutions and programs in a number of fields. Sarofim is a major contributor to the Houston Ballet and the Museum of Fine Arts, a favorite of his daughter Allison. He has provided support to Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center, the Texas Children’s Hospital and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston for construction of the $120 Million environment friendly, Fayez S. Sarofim Research Building. Sarofim also has made financial gifts to the Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Symphony, donating high seven figures to the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, creating the 2600 seat, Sarofim Hall, designed for touring Broadway shows, the Alley Theatre, and the Los Angeles Opera.
In December 2014, he married Susan Krohn, the ex-wife of fellow Billionaire Tracy Krohn, and mother of his son Phillip's wife Lori Krohn.
Sarofim was a major supporter of Jeb Bush's 2016 presidential candidacy.