Editor’s note: How TRD broke open real estate’s “worst-kept secret”

Real estate may have its very own Harvey Weinstein case. In many ways, it’s worse.

The Real Deal broke the bombshell news in recent weeks that top real estate brokers Oren and Tal Alexander are at the center of lawsuits that charge they raped and sexually assaulted women in what one industry expert called the “worst-kept secret” in the business. 

Over the course of a decade, the two brothers were involved in record-setting deals from Miami to New York to London, all while mimicking the lifestyle of their uber-wealthy clients, especially when it came to partying. Handsome and connected, their names would appear on lists of Manhattan’s most eligible bachelors.

Since the initial two lawsuits against Oren and his twin brother, Alon, who works outside of real estate in the family’s security business, at least 28 more alleged victims of the brothers have raised similar rape and sexual assault allegations, according to lawyers. There may be more.

Our cover story this month goes deeper into the shocking details of the case, which will likely take several months to fully come out and may ensnare other real estate players. Drugging women, forcibly dragging them around and tag-teaming victims were part of the brothers’ alleged playbook, with some of the alleged attacks taking place at parties. 

The fact that these claims appear to be an open secret in real estate is shocking. But it shows that when big money is involved, it’s tempting to let basic human decency go by the wayside.  

“Rumors of bad behavior by the Alexander brothers have been the worst-kept secret in New York and Florida real estate circles for well more than a decade,” appraiser Jonathan Miller noted. “What did the Alexanders do to keep all their victims so quiet for so long? … This story isn’t over.”

TRD plans to follow the trail of who knew what, and whether anyone in the industry served as an enabler — either at the brokerage they called home for a decade or their newly formed company Official.  

We’ll also look at what drove the brothers’ alleged actions — was this bro culture run terribly amok, or something even more nefarious? 

And what were the Alexanders taught growing up by their father, Miami spec home developer Shlomy Alexander?

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There are some clues. In a YouTube video, “How Oren Alexander Conquered the Residential Real Estate Industry,” he acknowledges that “we were raised differently than our peers,” with a “hustler mentality.” 

That included illicit activities, even then. “We were bookies as kids,” Oren says in the video. “Probably something you never wish your kid to do.” 

When I first heard about the sexual assault allegations, I was nauseated, slightly physically ill. As I’ve become inured to the facts of the case, it’s hardened into a desire to uncover the full details of what happened.

There is no shortage of people speaking out about the alleged attacks, on social media and to our reporters. 

The initial bombshell scoop and the seven subsequent stories we published last month were the amazing work of reporters Katherine Kallergis and Sheridan Wall, working with editor Ellen Cranley. (Email them at kk@therealdeal.com and sheridan.wall@therealdeal.com.)

When they were working on the first story, we heard that at least one other major media outlet had been trying to write it for a long time, but was unable to pin it down. The filing of the lawsuits under the Adult Survivors Act broke the vacuum seal. Once we ran the first piece, the floodgates opened, with other alleged victims coming forward.

Reports that followed news of the lawsuit describe victim accounts dating back to when the brothers were in high school in Miami, all the way to 2020.

Sexual assault messes up victims’ lives, plain and simple. It even affects children raised by a parent who has been traumatized. These alleged attacks can gut a person’s life and create generational trauma.

The silver lining of real estate’s shameful open secret being out there in the open is that it may prevent further attacks and suffering. 

Thank you for reading the issue.

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