Editor’s note: My “Succession” obsession

Dec.December 03, 2021 07:00 AM

Audience members could be forgiven for thinking they were watching an episode of “Succession.”

Last month at The Real Deal’s big annual event in Miami, which drew more than 4,000 people, the newly appointed president of Kushner Companies, Nikki Kushner Meyer, took the stage for a talk on the outlook for development.  

Her billionaire father (and boss), Charlie Kushner, sat vigilantly in the front row, along with her mother, Seryl, and the firm’s CEO, Laurent Morali. 

There was no Kendall Roy to disrupt the meeting with blaring grunge music, but the stakes were clearly high. As they milled around the VIP room later, the family was there to cheer Nikki on, critique her performance (she did well) and make sure the next generation of leadership was intact. See photos from the event on page 68.

Stuart Elliott

Echoes of the hit HBO show abound in real estate. Even more so than the media conglomerates portrayed on “Succession,” real estate is all about dynasties. The Dursts, the Tishmans, the Rudins, the Fishers, the LeFraks, the Roses, the Zeckendorfs — throw a dart in New York City and you’ll hit a building owned by a family empire.

I tell our reporters to watch the show for the details about extreme wealth and privilege that seem so spot-on in my experience — from flying private to how the help is treated.

TRD’s upcoming book by Adam Piore about the transformation of New York real estate over the past two decades will also include my favorite real estate family drama writ large: that of the Macklowes and the Swigs. 

On his way to owning and building some of the city’s most iconic real estate, family patriarch Harry Macklowe has gotten into legal battles with his son, his ex-wife and his ex-son-in-law, Kent Swig. He even put up a giant billboard of himself and his new girlfriend outside an apartment Linda Macklowe was going to buy after their divorce trial. It’s the same scorched earth approach you see in the show. 

You’ll be able to pre-order the book at the start of the year and it will be published in April.

Meanwhile, in this issue, we’ve got some great stories, including a piece that touches on succession, albeit not of the family variety. 

KKR is one of the world’s most formidable private equity firms, etched in business lore for its audacious multibillion-dollar deals — most notoriously, the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco that became the subject of the book “Barbarians at the Gate.” 

In October, KKR founders Henry Kravis and George Roberts announced they were stepping down from the $400 billion company to make room for new blood. We look at what’s next for KKR after it raised $4 billion for its largest real estate fund ever and pulled off blockbuster deals like its $500 million buy of the observation deck at Hudson Yards and its $1 billion life science play in San Francisco.

The Cuomos are another dynasty worthy of the TV screen. With Andrew ousted from power, we look at the candidates for New York governor and what each would mean for real estate — including their stance on “good cause” eviction, perhaps the most dreaded piece of legislation for landlords today.

There is no doubt the real estate scions of tomorrow will face issues their forefathers never had to worry about. To wit: Check out our story on supply chain issues impacting real estate; the land grab around solar power; and how developers are increasingly targeting “high-ground” areas to build around climate change. 

Those dynastic heirs will also be on the front lines of the tech transformation of real estate — whether it’s esports companies taking a bite out of the commercial sector; the future of iBuying following Zillow’s crack-up; or the commercial real estate behemoths trying to edge into the residential space.

Enjoy the family drama and enjoy the issue.


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