Editor’s note: The Real Deal this month introduces a regular feature called The Closing. It will feature interviews with big players in New York real estate.
What is your name?
Howard Mark Lorber
When is your birthday and what’s your sign?
September 8, 1948. Virgo.
Who are your parents?
Charles and Celia.
What are your job titles?
Chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman [real estate brokerage], chief executive of the Vector Group [holding company for cigarette makers Liggett Group and Vector Tobacco] and chairman of Nathan’s Famous [fast food restaurants], among others.
How much money do you have in your wallet now?
I don’t carry my money in a wallet. I have a money clip and there is $1,640 in it right now.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in the Bronx and grew up in Paramus, N.J., until I moved to Long Island for college.
What is your greatest achievement professionally?
The restructuring of the Western Union corporation as a board member,
where the stock went from $1 to $240 [a share] in three years.
What is your motto?
Come to me if you want to hear the truth. Don’t come to me if you want to hear what you want to hear.
What do you read every day?
The New York Post and the Wall Street Journal. Not the New York Times because it is too liberal for me.
Do you feel rich? Successful? Happy?
Rich has a lot of different meanings, but I feel all three: successful, rich and happy.
If you were the mayor of New York, what is the first thing you would change about the city and what would you fight to keep the same?
First: I would lower taxes. Second: I would make quality education more accessible. The thing I would fight to keep is the diversity of the city.
Are there any public buildings, parks or structures bearing your name?
I donated the building that houses the school of professional accountancy at my alma mater, Long Island University. It’s called Lorber Hall.
What is your favorite saying?
“It is better to remain quiet and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” — Abraham Lincoln
What should be the first sentence of your eulogy and who should give it?
I gave the eulogy for my father. I’d want my children to give mine. And the first sentence should say, “He was a great guy.”
Who is your consigliere?
I have many.
Who is your mentor?
My business partner, Bennett LeBow.
What’s your idea of the perfect Sunday afternoon?
In the summer, I am in Southampton at the pool. And in the winter, you will find me in Fisher Island, Fla., but only on the weekends.
Who is your hero? Why?
Donald Trump, because of everything he’s accomplished. Everything he does is first class, be it developing a building, a golf course,
casinos, or producing a television show. A first-rate guy.
Do you feel the world needs more people like you?
Not necessarily just like me, but more people who are willing to help others.
Give advice to someone 20 years younger.
It’s easy, if you work like a dog.
What gadget can you not live without, besides a cell phone and email?
My Bloomberg machine.
Do you have your own plane?
Yes, I am also a pilot of 15 years.
What’s the biggest professional gaffe you’ve ever made?
I make mistakes every day, but I try not to make the same ones.
What time do you get in on Mondays and what time do you leave on Fridays?
I wake up at 5:30 in the morning. I am in by 8:30. On Fridays, anything goes.
What do you consider to be the greatest vice?
Not being thankful for what you have.
What is your job?
My job is to help those who work for me make money.
What’s the secret to a happy marriage?
A spouse who understands what you are trying to accomplish. Additionally, separate bathrooms and lots of living space helps.
How do you size up people when you first meet them?
Handshake is a start and a brief conversation should be enough.
How do you deal with antagonists?
I usually confront them.
What is people’s biggest misperception about you?
I am a very outspoken guy, so they never have a chance to have one.
Do you prefer to be feared or loved?
I think people generally want to be loved, but respect is another thing.
What’s been your greatest disappointment?
Not winning the Westminster Dog Show with my champion English springer spaniel, Jagger, named after Mick.
You have a few Picassos and Cézannes hanging in your office. Are you a big art collector?
I am an art collector, but I must admit the ones in the office are all fakes.