Real estate honchos pass power to sons-in-law

TRD New York /
Sep.September 30, 2013 10:45 AM

Power in real estate typically gets handed down from the father to the son. But in some high-profile cases, it’s the sons-in-law who assume the throne.

At the mighty landlord Tishman Speyer, for example, Jerry Speyer joined the company in the 1960s as a vice-president, working for his father-in-law Bob Tishman. But it was apparent from the day he joined that he was the heir apparent, the Wall Street Journal reported. Similarly, Peter Malkin was the right-hand man of his father-in-law Lawrence Wien for several years before he assumed control of the company whose holdings include the Empire State Building, after Wien’s death in 1988.

And at Greenwich, Conn.-based Urstadt Biddle, a developer specializing in retail property, current chief executive Willing Biddle was given a talk by his father-in-law Charles Urstadt about “the birds and the bees” when he joined the firm in 1987, he told the Journal.

The queen bees are top dogs such as Harry Helmsley and Larry Silverstein, Biddle recalled his father-in-law saying. The drones are their employees and the worker bees are brokers and consultants. A true entrepreneur wants to be a queen bee, Urstadt said.

This June, after working in positions of increasing prominence over the years, Biddle was made CEO when Urstadt stepped down.

“Now I’m a queen bee,” Biddle told the Journal. [WSJ]  – Hiten Samtani

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