Tamir Sapir, who died in 2014, was a New York City-based real estate investor and the founder of the Sapir Organization. Sapir was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, in either 1946 or 1947, in what was then a republic of the Soviet Union; after leaving the country, he became a millionaire on import-export contracts with the USSR as its economic system was imploding. Starting in 1992, Sapir parlayed that capital into New York real estate investments, and by the 2000s Forbes was regularly putting him on its list of American billionaires. Sapir immigrated to Israel from the Soviet Union in 1973, then to Kentucky in 1975, where he worked a series of low-wage, blue-collar jobs, and finally to New York, where he drove a cab. He borrowed against his taxi medallion to open an electronics store in the 1980s, which led to USSR government contracts to supply the country with consumer goods, including electronics, in exchange for crude oil, natural gas and products derived from those commodities, such as fertilizer. Sapir reinvested the earnings from those transactions, essentially high-risk bartering worth millions of dollars. Following the credit crunch of 2008-2009, some of the properties in his portfolio, heavily mortgaged, were foreclosed upon. His attorneys blamed his debt problems on a degenerative brain illness called aphasia. Sapir attended Tbilisi State University, where he studied journalism but did not earn a degree. He had five children. He divorced his first wife, Bella Sapir, in 2001, and was survived by his second wife, Elena Ponomareva.