The Real Deal New York

Billy Macklowe (Photo by STUDIO SCRIVO)

Billy Macklowe

By Lauren Elkies | March 06, 2012 11:59AM

Billy Macklowe is the founder and CEO of William Macklowe Company, an investment firm which he started in June 2010 after splitting from his father Harry’s company, Macklowe Properties. (The younger Macklowe joined his father’s firm in 1993. When he left he was chairman and CEO.) Macklowe’s departure came after his father famously lost his prized possession, the GM Building, along with a $7 billion Midtown portfolio — a collapse that became synonymous with the real estate bust.

Macklowe’s first deal at William Macklowe Company was the 2011 $45.2 million purchase of 636 Sixth Avenue with the company now known as Clarion Partners. His 18-employee company has a $1.5 billion real estate fund focused on buying New York City properties and debt.

What is your full name?
William Samson Macklowe.

What is your date of birth?
April 22, 1968.

Where do you live?
At 82nd and Fifth. We also have a house in Sagaponack, Long Island.

What were you like as a kid growing up in New York City?
I still think I’m a kid. I was active, athletic, I think social. I grew up sailing so I spent a lot of time on the water.

Does your family still sail?
My parents do. I sold my boat, courtesy of my wife, three years ago. … [But we’ve] replaced the sailing with surfing.

Are you a good surfer?
For a weekend warrior, I think I can hold my own.

How did you and your wife [Julie Macklowe] meet?
On a blind date through a friend, eight days after my 35th birthday.

Were you married previously?
I had a rookie marriage many, many years ago. It was for less than a year.

What’s it like being married to a socialite [a fixture on the city and Hamptons social scenes]?
Julie’s considered a socialite, but I think she’s a far cry from that. She’s a powerhouse of a woman. She had a great 12-year career in finance. She ran her own hedge fund [Macklowe Asset Management, which she closed in October 2010], trading consumer retail. Most recently she raised a bunch of money to launch her own skin care company.

Do you feel like you have to attend a lot of society affairs with her?
Oh, I don’t go. Julie and I have an understanding.

What kind of understanding?
I don’t need to go to all these things. She’s the face of her brand. There’s a lot of entertaining that I do for business. But really, we have a handful of events that have real meaning and those are the ones that I go to with Julie.

How do you compare as a dad to your father?
My dad was a great father. I spent a lot of time with my parents growing up on the boat. My dad spent a lot of time building a business. I think the way business happens today is different. Unless I need to be in a conference room negotiating or out raising money, if I want to come home and see [Zoë], my daughter, [I can].

So you get to see her more than your dad saw you as a child?
Yes. My dad worked hard and built a big empire.

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal where you lambasted your father.
I think the article you are referring to was in 2008 and there has been enough written about it on both sides.

What’s your relationship been like since then?
Great. He’s a very good grandparent. Both my parents spend a lot of time with my daughter. We have holiday meals. We have family brunches, stuff like that. I don’t think it’s anything dissimilar to what it was in the past — other than he has his company and I have mine.

Why did you choose a company name that is so similar to your dad’s?
Tishman Speyer and Vornado were already taken.

Do you think you can fill your dad’s shoes?
I don’t think it’s a question of filling my dad’s shoes. I’m building a business and I just want to be successful, be a good steward of institutional capital and to have fun doing it.

Why did you decide to get into real estate?
Peter Martins’ dance company rejected my application [joking]. I’ve always liked real estate. It was something I had always been around. I worked on the real estate side of banking at Manufacturers Hanover Trust before I joined my family’s business. That was my business school.

Why did you leave Macklowe Properties?
Dad always had the experience of starting his own company. … I wanted that moment of starting my own company.

Your sister Liz was married to Kent Swig [president of Swig Equities]. What’s your relationship like with your former brother-in-law?
Never had one then and don’t have one now. Do you know the difference between in-laws and outlaws? Outlaws are wanted.

Did you get your sense of humor from your father?
I like dialogue and banter. My humor is a blend of the two of them. My dad’s humor is more on the schtick side of life [Harry can be seen telling jokes at oldjewstellingjokes.com] and my mom has more of a caustic wit.

Why are you so sensitive about being called Bill?
A bill is something one pays. I am Billy — always have been, always will be.

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