The Real Deal New York

A house divided: Zeckendorf brothers split on Clinton, Trump camps

William writes checks to a certain former secretary of state, while Arthur supports the Donald

January 04, 2016 06:10PM
By Rich Bockmann


From left: Hillary Clinton, William Zeckendorf, Arthur Zeckendorf and Donald Trump

With billion-dollar luxe condo tower 520 Park Avenue rising out of the ground, the Zeckendorf brothers are testing the biblical wisdom that says if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

The scions of the Zeckendorf real estate dynasty are split when it comes to breaking out their checkbooks to support 2016’s presidential frontrunners.

William Lie Zeckendorf, the older of the two siblings, is a big supporter of Hillary Clinton. He made a total of $5,400 in contributions to her campaign in 2015, and wrote a check for $10,000 to Ready for Hillary, the super political action committee established to support the early stages of the Clinton campaign.

Arthur, on the other hand, puts his money behind fellow real estate mogul Donald Trump, writing a check to his campaign for $2,700.

The Zeckendorfs through a spokesperson declined to comment on their political leanings, but a few years ago Arthur, whose grandfather dominated the national real estate scene in the 1940s through the 1960s, identified Trump as the person who most influenced him in the industry.

“He basically started the high-end condo business,” he told the New York Times in 2013. “I certainly followed him, admired him. I met him a few times.”

In response, Trump tweeted a link to the article and called Arthur a “wonderful developer.”

The younger Zeckendorf is not necessarily partisan, though. He also made $5,000 worth of contributions to Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler, who represents the Western side of Manhattan from Battery Park City to Morningside Heights and parts of Brooklyn.

Trump is primarily funding his campaign with his own personal wealth, though he has raised about $3.9 million so far from individuals. Among them is Meridian Capital CEO Ralph Herzka and his wife Judy, who contributed a combined $5,000 to the campaign last year.

Clinton’s industry backers include Newmark Grubb Night Frank chairman Jeffrey Gural, SL Green Realty CEO Stephen Green, Rudin Management CEO William Rudin and John Catsimatidis, the CEO of Red Apple Group who ran an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2013.

While Trump has largely receded from the real estate scene, the Zeckendorfs are arguably among the highest-profile developers in the city, playing in the luxury real estate sandbox Trump embodied in the 1980s and 1990s.

There was a time when they went head-to-head. In 1999, the Zeckendorfs claimed they had unseated Trump as the king of high-priced development when they sold condos at 515 Park Avenue for $3,000 per square foot, topping the $2,256 per-square-foot record the Donald had set at his Trump International tower at 1 Central Park West.

William told the New York Post that he did not think Trump would take the news in stride.

“Of course, he’ll protest it,” he anticipated.