The Real Deal New York

Here are Secret Service code names for NYC’s biggest developers

If Steve Roth or Gary Barnett were president, the men in black would likely go with these monikers

September 17, 2015 03:05PM
By Rey Mashayekhi

UPDATED, 4:25 p.m., Sept. 17: As expected, the second Republican presidential debate Wednesday night had its share of moments. But perhaps no moment was more memorable than when the 11 candidates were asked what they’d like their Secret Service code names to be.

The question elicited responses ranging from ironically comical (“Humble,” replied none other than Donald Trump) to straightforward (“Harley,” said Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who added “I love riding Harleys”) to downright perplexing (“Justice Never Sleeps,” according to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul).

It also got us at The Real Deal thinking – what code names would some of New York’s biggest commercial real estate players have, if they were president? Well, we’ve done our research, and here they are. Enjoy.

Steven Roth

Steve Roth is… “Zen Master”

The Vornado Realty Trust founder and CEO is known as one of the more imposing characters and intimidating negotiators on the city’s real estate scene – one doesn’t come to control more than 30 million square feet without some aggression, after all. If the Donald can be “Humble,” then Steve can be “Zen Master.”

Gary BarnettGary Barnett is… “Jigsaw”

No, not the villain from “Saw.” The Extell Development chief has a preternatural ability to piece together complex assemblages for his next great development. New York City is a puzzle, and nobody does a better job of putting it all together than Gary Barnett.

Jerry SpeyerJerry Speyer is… “The Modest Tuna”

In a 1995 New York Times profile, the Tishman Speyer founding partner came across as wanting “to be thought of as a regular guy.” Speyer described his family’s humble background and noted, “I eat tuna fish everyday for lunch. That’s all I ever have.” So, “The Modest Tuna” it is.

Joseph ChetritJoseph Chetrit is… “Big Brother”

The Chetrit Group head is the eldest of five sons, who notably split up the family business into two camps several years ago – Joseph and Meyer stayed on at the Chetrit Group, while Jacob and Juda broke off under the Chetrit Organization. Joseph’s not only the eldest, but also the most prolific. And he’s always watching for new opportunities.

Stephen RossStephen Ross is… “Dolphin”

Are you ready for some football? The Related Cos. founder and Miami Dolphins owner always is.

Larry Silverstein

Larry Silverstein is… “The Green Banana”

The Silverstein Properties founder has a favorite saying — “I have no time for green bananas” — that perfectly sums up the restless drive behind his notorious work ethic. It may sound like the weirdest comic book hero ever, but “The Green Banana” is simply too good to pass up.