New York Observer

The 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate

September 1, 2008

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Bloomberg, Trump, Ratner, De Niro, the Guy Behind Craigslist! They’re All Among Our 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate


Power Webster’s Dictionary defines power as … No, no, no, never mind that: Power in New York City real estate means money—its acquisition, spending and creation—especially now, as the market enters a tremulous sunset after several bright, shiny years.

Our list of the 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate was assembled with this financecentric criterion at the forefront. The list, especially higher up, contains those who animate the deals and the trends. They are the deciders and the money providers. They make the real estate world the rest of us live in; or cover, as the case may be. This criterion explains why some people were obvious picks (financiers like No. 20 Josef Ackermann and No. 7 Lloyd Blankfein; developers like No. 1 Jerry Speyer and No. 9 Douglas Durst; landlords like No. 33 Bill Rudin and No. 66 Lloyd Goldman); and why some picks weren’t so obvious initially (No. 58 Charles Stevenson, the co-op board president at 740 Park; No. 26 Robert De Niro, perhaps the greatest living actor who became Tribeca’s greatest booster; No. 15 Edward Egan, the Catholic archbishop of New York with all that church property under his purview).

The criterion also helps explain why we didn’t rank any brokers until No. 25 Dolly Lenz, probably the most successful residential broker in the U.S. Why? However capable and ingenious in the commissioned service of those spending the capital, brokers are facilitators for the likes of Messrs. Durst and Speyer (or of Messrs. De Niro and Egan, for that matter). They are not the initiators. The same holds for public o!cials, including the mighty Michael Bloomberg (No. 2). They seem to be at their best for real estate either facilitating its development or standing clear of its ascendancy. That is, obstructionist or helper; and Mr. Bloomberg’s administration has done very little of the former and a lot of the latter. Finally, a few observations about the top 100. It, like the upper echelons of New York real estate, was whiter than East Hampton’s, well, white pages: David Jackson (No. 50), the CEO of Istithmar, and Governor David Paterson (No. 13) were the only African-Americans on the list. And Ms. Lenz, the broker, was the highest-ranking woman in private industry. She was joined by just eight other women. Also, the list, as you might expect for one based on money and its management, was heavy on extreme wealth, even by New York standards, including both inherited (Kent Swig, Rob Speyer, Billy Macklowe, Donald Trump and Bill Rudin) and self-created (Mort Zuckerman, Joseph Moinian, Leonard Litwin and Larry Silverstein). There were, however, a fair amount of almostfrom-nothing entrepreneurs splashed across the list: Lockhart Steele, No. 91, publisher of the Curbed Network of blogs; Michael Shvo, No. 100, Manhattan luxury marketing in the meticulously tanned flesh; Craig Newmark, No. 6, that guy in glasses from San Francisco who has all the brokers frightened for their livelihoods; Keith McNally, No. 90, the hotel bellhop who became a restaurant deity; and on … Who knows who’ll make it next year?

18 MIKI NAFTALI CEO and President of Elad Properties He fell in love with a ramshackle, money-losing Plaza Hotel, then Elad paid about $838,509 per room to buy it up. The redone Plaza, now more condo than hotel, has dozens of bubbly buyers who paid 10 times that amount for their suites—right before the market flattened.