The Real Deal New York

In memoriam: Portraits of real estate players who died in 2015

Julien Studley, John Zuccotti and Jay Furman among those the industry lost this year

December 31, 2015 01:30PM
By E.B. Solomont

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From left: John Zuccotti, Julien Studley, Doug Shorenstein and Michael Graves

The New York real estate community lost several influential brokers, developers and architects this year. From those who shaped the city’s neighborhoods to those who brokered complex commercial transactions, here are some of those we said goodbye to in 2015.

Jay Furman

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Jay Furman

Developer Jay Furman, whose RD Management-owned buildings throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, died in January. In 1995, Furman co-founded New York University’s Furman Center for the Real Estate and Urban Policy, a joint center of the NYU School of Law and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

“Jay was always the Furman Center’s toughest questioner — his curiosity, incredible intelligence, breadth of knowledge, and enthusiastic embrace of any complexity made him the best thinker in the room on almost any issue,” Vicki Been, Department of Housing Preservation and Development commissioner and former Furman Center head, said at the time.

A. James Clark

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A. James Clark

Billionaire “King of Concrete” A. James Clark, whose firm built the American Ballet Theater at Lincoln College and other iconic buildings, died in March at age 87.

The Virginia native started his career in construction in 1950 and took business classes on the side. His wealth was estimated at about $1.4 billion by Forbes. His firm, Clark Enterprises, built Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, the Juilliard School in New York and World Bank Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Michael Graves

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Michael Graves

Michael Graves, one of the most notable American architects of the 20th century who made a mark on modernism, died at age 80 in March.

Perhaps best known for designing the teakettle and pepper mill, the Indianapolis native designed more than 350 buildings around the world, including the Impala Building, Averne East, and 425 Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Graves began teaching at Princeton University in 1962 and founded the firm Michael Graves & Associates in Princeton, N.J., in 1964. In the 1970s, Graves was associated with the New York Five, a group of architects who shaped modernism.  In the 1980s, Graves proposed an expansion of the Whitney Museum of American Art, which did not happen.

Greg Young

Greg Young

Greg Young

Real estate educator Greg Young – who founded the agent training school Broker Heaven – died in April. Young, 54, began his career in real estate in 1982 as a broker and worked at J.I. Sopher & Co. and then the Marketing Directors.

He was hired as director of sales at Citi Habitats in 2000, where he earned the nickname “G Money” for helping rookie agents learn to make money. He launched Broker Heaven in 2010.

Patricia Goldstein

Patricia Goldstein

Patricia Goldstein

Patricia Goldstein, a vice president and the head of commercial real estate for Emigrant Bank, died in May after being injured in a bicycle accident in Florida.

Goldstein, 69, began her career at Citigroup in 1966 and joined Brookfield predecessor Olympia & York in 1983. The CRE pioneer later rejoined Citigroup and cofounded Citadel Realty Group, and worked for Milstein Brothers Realty Investors, where she spearheaded a new venture for acquisitions and development.

Kirk Kerkorian

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Kirk Kerkorian

Billionaire real estate investor and former MGM mogul Kirk Kerkorian died at age 98 in June. The son of Armenian immigrant parents, Kerkorian changed the face of Las Vegas, where he built the city’s largest hotel on three separate occasions, including the MGM Grand in 1993.

His net worth was an estimated $16 billion in 2008, according to Forbes, though the number later fell to $4 billion. As a young man, Kerkorian was an amateur boxer, daredevil pilot and high-stakes poker player before turning to real estate. In 1986, he sold MGM to Ted Turner for $1.5 billion, buying back the company – but not the film library – for only $300 million a year later. In 2000, Kerkorian paid $4.4 billion cash for Steve Wynn’s Mirage Resorts.

Julien Studley

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Julien Studley

Legendary broker Julien Studley, founder of the eponymous commercial brokerage, died at age 88 in October. “This is a guy who transformed the business in many ways into what it is today,” Bruce Mosler, chairman of global brokerage at Cushman & Wakefield, said at the time.

Born in Brussels, Belgium, Studley and his family fled to France and then Cuba in 1940 to escape the advancing Germany army. Arriving in New York at age 16, Studley worked at a real estate firm and in the diamond business at night before founding Julien J. Studley Inc. in 1954. Studley sold the company in 2002, and the brokerage eventually merged with London-based Savills in 2014.

Douglas Shorenstein 

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Doug Shorenstein

Douglas Shorenstein, whose San Francisco-based real estate firm is heavily invested in New York City, died in November 2015 after battling cancer.

Shorenstein, who joined his father in the family real estate business in 1983, rose to be chairman and CEO of Shorenstein Properties in 1995. Splitting his time between San Francisco and New York, Shorenstein oversaw a nationwide portfolio of more than 24.8 million square feet. In New York, Shorenstein Properties was one of the two sellers of the 2.3 million-square-foot Starrett-Lehigh Building in West Chelsea for $920 million in 2011. Shorenstein also owns 1407 Broadway, 477 Madison Avenue and 850 Third Avenue, which is on the market.

John Zuccotti

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John Zuccotti

John Zuccotti, a Brookfield executive and former deputy mayor who is perhaps best known for shaping Lower Manhattan after Sept. 11, died in November.

A Manhattan native, Zuccotti studied at Princeton University and Yale Law School, and he was appointed chairman of the City Planning Commission in 1973. He later became first deputy mayor under Abraham Beame.

In 1990, Zuccotti joined Brookfield’s predecessor, Olympia & York. It was from his perch at Brookfield that he helped to redevelop Lower Manhattan, which now has a park bearing his name. Most recently, he served as the chair of global operations for Brookfield Asset Management.

Glen Nelson 

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Glen Nelson

Glen Nelson, founder and CEO of commercial and residential development firm, died in December in a car crash on Long Island.

Nelson, 48, was co-founder of Matrix Realty Group, a real estate investment and management company he helped to start in 1993 that has holdings throughout the U.S. Properties include suburban office parks in Connecticut, Alabama and Long Island.

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