Howard Rubenstein, press agent who repped stars and real estate elite, dies at 88

Clients included Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch, Leona Helmsley

New York /
Dec.December 30, 2020 08:55 AM
Howard Rubenstein (Getty)

Howard Rubenstein (Getty)

Howard Rubenstein, a legendary figure in public relations who represented the power players of New York, died Tuesday in his Manhattan home. He was 88.

His lengthy list of clients included real estate firms, celebrities, politicians, corporations and cultural institutions. Among them were Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch, the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, Columbia University, the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic, according to the New York Times.

“I will remember him for his unwavering code of ethics, which earned him the trust of real estate moguls, developers, politicians, and celebrities all over the world,” said Bess Freedman, CEO of Brown Harris Stevens, one of Rubenstein’s clients. “He left an indelible mark on the real estate industry, on New York City, and on the many people he helped along the way.”

Rubenstein spoke with a soft voice and strived to do his job with dignity, often preaching ethics in articles and speeches on public relations, the paper reported.

“When you have a crisis, you first have to ask, what’s the right thing to do and say?” he told the Times in 1995. “Not what kind of spin can we put on, but what’s the right thing to do. You don’t let the facts dribble out. Sometimes you do it by holding a news conference. Other times you do it with a written statement, depending on how the client feels or the ability of the client to conduct himself or herself in a tough situation.”

Rubenstein was born in Brooklyn on Feb. 3, 1932, to Samuel and Ada (Sall) Rubenstein. He graduated from Midwood High School and the University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in economics.

Upon dropping out of Harvard Law School after two months, he learned public relations from his father, a journalist, and launched his eponymous firm from his kitchen table in 1954. He earned a law degree from St. John’s University five years later but continued his agency, building it into one of the city’s most prestigious PR shops.

He is survived by his wife Amy Forman, along with three children, Roni, Richard, and Steven Rubenstein, and seven grandchildren. David, another child, died in 1971 at the age of nine.

[NYT] — Sasha Jones


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