Robert Kaufman, head of William Kaufman Organization, dies at age 89

Developer oversaw company's portfolio for 65 years

<em>Florence and Robert Kaufman</em>
Florence and Robert Kaufman

Robert Kaufman, who oversaw the acquisition and development of every asset owned by one of New York’s leading family-owned real estate firms, died on Wednesday. He was 89.

Kaufman became known for his expertise in commercial real estate as head of the company his father started in 1938, the William Kaufman Organization. He died at his home in Kings Point on Long Island, company representatives announced on Friday.

Kaufman, who also served as president of the company’s leasing and management division, Sage Realty Corporation, oversaw the leasing of the company’s portfolio, including 711 Third Avenue in the 1950s. He and his brother, Melvyn Kaufman, joined the company after World War II, shifting the firm’s focus from residential and industrial projects to building and remodeling offices buildings. Melvyn Kaufman headed the company until his retirement in 2010 and died two years later.

In recent years, Robert Kaufman led efforts to reposition 2.5 million square feet of the company’s portfolio, which includes 77 Water Street, 777 Third Avenue and 437 Madison Avenue.

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Kaufman also served on the Real Estate Board of New York’s board of governors from 1974 to 1976.

He is survived by his wife, Florence; their three daughters, Ronna DiPersia, Cathy Kaufman Iger and Julie McAlpine; and seven grandchildren. Services will be held on Sunday at the Temple Beth-El of Great Neck at 12 p.m.

Correction: An earlier version of this story listed the wrong address for one of the William Kaufman Organization’s properties. It’s 777 Third Avenue.