Robert Flaxman, LA developer embroiled in college admissions scandal, dies at 66

Coroner rules suicide of Crown Realty CEO

commercial real estate, Robert Flaxman
Robert Flaxman (Getty)

Robert Flaxman, a prominent Los Angeles-based commercial developer known for his involvement in the 2019 college admissions scandal, died at his Malibu residence last week. He was 66 years old.

The L.A. County coroner’s office ruled Flaxman’s death a suicide, according to case reports.

Though he spent almost 30 years as CEO of Costa Mesa-based Crown Realty & Development building a portfolio of office, retail and other commercial properties, Flaxman reached his highest profile moment in 2019, when he was among more than 50 people charged in the nationwide college admissions scandal.

In 2016, Flaxman conspired to have his daughter’s ACT exam corrected and to give her more time to take the admissions test, according to court records. He made a $75,000 donation to a fake charity — run by William Singer, the alleged “mastermind” behind the scandal — in exchange.

Attorneys for Flaxman told a judge it was an act of desperation — he wanted his daughter to remain in recovery, so he paid the $75,000 to get her into a safe environment. Flaxman cried in court and apologized to any students “that work hard and don’t cheat no matter what.”

Flaxman pled guilty to federal counts of wire fraud and was eventually sentenced to a month in prison.

Before this, Flaxman stayed relatively under the radar, buying up commercial properties with little media coverage. In 2019, the firm boasted $600 million in assets under management, with properties in California, Arizona, Virginia, Idaho and North Carolina.

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He was known for hosting lavish parties in Beverly Hills, appearing at the Cannes Film Festival and dating a former Playboy model, according to various Instagram posts. He gave himself the moniker “Robert Emerald.”

When he was released from prison in 2020, Flaxman started looking to sell off some of his residential properties. He listed two neighboring homes in Beverly Hills for $38 million, after dropping plans to redevelop the properties into one.

Flaxman relocated to Malibu the same year, buying a seven-bedroom property on the hills behind the Malibu pier for $16.6 million.

In June, Flaxman sold off the Malibu home for $7.7 million to his firm, Crown Realty, records show.

Crown Realty owns a number of offices across L.A., including the 74,000-square-foot building at 6725 Sunset Boulevard, leased to Epic Pictures.

A spokesperson for Crown Realty & Development declined to comment.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health or suicide crisis or emotional distress, reach out 24/7 to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing or texting 988 or using chat services at suicidepreventionlifeline.org to connect to a trained crisis counselor. You can also get crisis text support through the National Alliance on Mental Illness by texting NAMI to 741741.