The Closing: Bill Rudin on his stint in films and his Poodle passion

Bill Rudin (Photo by STUDIO SCRIVO)
Bill Rudin (Photo by STUDIO SCRIVO)

Rudin is the CEO of Rudin Management Company, a business started by his grandfather, Samuel Rudin, in 1925, and previously run by his father, Lew Rudin, and uncle, Jack Rudin. The firm’s portfolio is comprised of 10 million square feet of commercial space at buildings such as 3 Times Square, 345 Park Avenue and 80 Pine Street, and 20 luxury apartment buildings, including 1085 Park Avenue and 945 Fifth Avenue. The company’s current projects include the Greenwich Lane, a collection of 200 condominiums across five buildings at the former site of St. Vincent’s Hospital in the West Village. (Sales at the project are being headed by Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group.) Rudin also recently tapped architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to redesign the lobby of another of its office buildings, 560 Lexington Avenue.

Name: William Craig Rudin
Born: April 20, 1955
Hometown: Manhattan
Marital status: Married since 1983
Children: Samantha, Michael

What were you like as a kid?

I was not the greatest student in the world. I loved sports and I had a lot of friends.

Did your dad involve you in the business from a young age?

There’s a picture of me in the late 1950s. My dad and my grandfather took me down to 80 Pine Street, where they were excavating the site. That was my first trip to a construction site.

Did you always want to be in real estate?

There was a moment after I graduated from college where I worked in the film industry. I was a production assistant for a couple of movies, like “The Deep” with Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Shaw and Nick Nolte. My stepfather was in the movie business [so he helped get me the job]. I then realized that the real estate business was where my heart was.

Your dad was a huge New York personality. What was it like to grow up with such a well-known father?

It was always fascinating. He would hold court on Sundays at P.J. Clarke’s, and it would be a revolving door of people in politics, entertainment and sports. We were invited once to dinner at Gracie Mansion with John and Mary Lindsay when I was 14. That was pretty cool.

Your father was very civically involved, starting during the fiscal crisis.

He understood early on that our real estate was tied into the health of the city. His father, my grandfather, didn’t want him to get so engaged. He wanted him to focus on the business. But my father said, “Pops, what I’m doing is our business.”

They named the street your office is on “Lew Rudin Way.” What would he think of that?

That was his favorite corner. He would say, “You could walk from the Four Seasons to [The] 21 [Club] on 52nd Street, and the world would pass you by.”

You won a New York Emmy Award for a documentary you helped make about your dad. How did that happen?

My dad wanted to do an oral history. We started to do interviews on tape. Then, he got ill. There were probably five or six hours of audio. Each one, you could hear him getting a little weaker. When he passed away, it took me probably six months to listen to the tapes. It was just unbelievable, the things he talked about, but it wasn’t enough to tell his story. So I used that and other interviews [for the documentary].

Where did you go to school?

I went to Dalton and the University of Arizona for two years. Then I came back to NYU.

How did you meet your wife, Ophelia?

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At NYU, in Finance 101. It was September 1977. I noticed her right away, but she was always surrounded by friends, so it took me a little while [to approach her]. Finally, I knew she was taking an evening course, so I arranged to be walking near the building she’d be coming out of with one of my dogs so I could bump into her.

Do you have grandchildren?

Yes. Samantha is married, with an 18-month-old daughter named Elle. Michael got married last June.

Where do you live?

In one of our buildings on the Upper East Side.

Do you have any other homes?

We have a home in Bridgehampton. We love it out there.

What do you do for exercise?

I rollerblade in the morning. I try to get in two lower loops of Central Park. I get all my pads on and my helmet and use that time to think about things I need to do, or strategize on a deal we’re working on. Ophelia and I swim a lot together, too.

What’s your vice?

Eating too much, probably, whether it be J.G. Melon’s hamburgers or Mezzaluna pizzas.

When did you join the family company?

I had worked for the company on and off over summers. One of my first jobs was in the mail room, and then I worked for the building manager at 345 Park Avenue.

Your sister Beth DeWoody is a well-known art collector. Do you also collect?

Yes, we like the sculptor Ugo Rondinone, we have a couple of [pieces by sculptor] Anish Kapoor and [painter] David Hockney, but we’re nowhere near my sister’s level.

You’re a dog lover, right?

I’ve had a dog in my life since I was 14 years old. That’s probably one of the reasons my wife fell in love with me, because of my brown standard poodle, Smitty.

You have to be pretty comfortable with your masculinity to have a poodle.

He was a big poodle. I was not a small-poodle person until after Smitty II passed away. Ophelia and I have two dogs, Sebastian and Biriba. Samantha has Mocha and Michael has Hoppy, who’s a half-brother of Biriba. Elle loves dogs too.

In an earlier version of this story, TRD incorrectly stated one of Rudin’s vices. He intended to say it was eating hamburgers from the restaurant J.G. Melon.