The Real Deal New York

The Closing: Richard Mack on getting fired and fielding calls from Russian oligarchs

February 01, 2014
By Katherine Clarke

Richard Mack (Photo by STUDIO SCRIVO)

Richard Mack (Photo by STUDIO SCRIVO)

Richard Mack is the co-founder of Mack Real Estate Group, which he runs with his father, William, and his brother, Stephen. The group was founded in 2013 after Mack and his father sold their company, Area Property Partners, formerly known as Apollo Real Estate Advisors, to investment firm Ares Management. Area’s funds collectively invested in more than $70 billion of real estate ventures in 25 countries under the Macks. The company also co-developed the Time Warner Center with the Related Companies, and owned iconic office towers like 1290 Sixth Avenue. Mack’s new firm recently launched leasing at the 229-unit residential rental 50 North 5th Street that it developed in Williamsburg. Mack said the firm is in discussions to buy a development site on the Lower East Side and to buy 700 units in Brooklyn near the waterfront.

Name: Richard Jay Mack
Born: August 25, 1967
Hometown: Great Neck, New York
Marital status: Married for 16 years
Children: Harrison, 15; Dylan, 13; Tucker, 7

What were you like as a kid?

I was pretty intense. Everything I did, I did hard. I’ve definitely mellowed a bit.

Are we talking studying hard or hard drugs?

I was doing some hard studying and had some hard playing, I guess. Soft drugs, not hard drugs [laughing].

Where did you go to college?

Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania. When I graduated, I went to the real estate group at Shearson Lehman Hutton, which became Lehman Brothers. It was a terrible time to be on Wall Street. I knew pretty early on that I was not long for that world. I was prepared for what was coming, so it wasn’t a blow to my ego [when I was fired]. I didn’t know anything, so I wasn’t really of much value to anyone and I understood that.

Were you upset to be fired?

Luckily, I’d already sent out an application to Columbia Law School.

Did you go straight to Apollo after law school?

I started there two weeks after graduation. We were working 16- or 18-hour days. My wife, then my girlfriend, would call the office at 3 a.m. and be like, ‘Why are you not home?’ I’d have to put one of my colleagues on the phone to tell her, ‘We are all still here.’

How did your family get into the business?

My grandfather was a demolition contractor. He demolished a number of high-profile New York sites, [clearing the way for buildings like] the United Nations and Peter Cooper Village. One of the outgrowths of that business was a lumber-and-brick yard in Queens. He ultimately decided to build a few buildings there. Then my dad got into building industrial and distribution centers near the Lincoln Tunnel, and that business grew into a large office development business, specializing in building corporate campuses.

When was Area started?

In the early 1990s, when the market was in a depression. Leon Black approached my father about buying junk bonds.… They decided to start a real estate fund, and I was employee number three. What I presumed was just going to be one $500 million fund ended up turning into a real estate private equity business. Over the next 20 years, we raised about $14 billion in equity.

What’s it like having a family in the industry?

What I’m very sure about is that I was born on third base, but I’ve always tried to be respectful of the position I’m in. Back in the early days, I worked harder than anybody because I felt I needed to.

Where do you live?

In a townhouse on 94th Street in Carnegie Hill. I bought the property as a development deal. I wanted to move to the suburbs, but my wife wanted to stay in the city.

You tried to sell off the whole thing at one point, right?

Before I was living there, it was for sale. Now it’s not. [But] I’ve gotten more unsolicited calls from brokers and representatives of Russian oligarchs than I know what to do with. I always take the call because I’m interested in what number they’re going to throw out.

How do you get to your Columbus Circle office?

I run sometimes and then shower at the [Equinox] gym in the basement. One time, I took my longboard to work. The young guys kept making fun of me as the skateboarding CEO.

Do you have other homes?

I have a home in Bedford, N.Y.

How did you meet your wife, Christine?

Through mutual friends. It was the reverse of a set-up. I was supposed to date her friend and she was supposed to date mine.

Do you get much time with your three boys?

Yes. We ski a lot in the winter. I’m taking them to Chamonix [in France] to do some off-piste in March.

What are your bad habits and vices?

I run late a lot. I’m pretty careful not to be late for fundraising meetings, though. I also like a good glass of wine, a good scotch and a good tequila, but I’m pretty disciplined.

Do you make as much money as you’d like to?

Yes.

What kind of a car do you drive?

I own a 15-year-old BMW M5. It was one of the first presents I ever bought myself. I mostly drive my wife’s Escalade.

Are you close with your brother and his wife, Kelly Kennedy Mack [head of Corcoran Sunshine]?

Very close. We probably see each other every other Sunday for dinner. There’s a lot of business discussed.

  • Jonathan Yunason

    Wow. Did not know the Macks grew up in my hometown of Great Neck. Pretty Cool. Leon Black and Macks are Legends!

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