Joe Sitt, Len Blavatnik in billionaires’ chat to help Adams deal with Columbia protesters

Sitt, Blavatnik Plotted for NYPD to Oust Columbia Protesters

From left: Len Blavatnik, Mayor of New York City Eric Adams and Thor Equities’ Joseph Sitt (Getty, Thor Equities)

Joseph Sitt and Len Blavatnik were part of a group pushing for Mayor Eric Adams to send police to Columbia University in response to pro-Palestine protests.

Sitt, Blavatnik, hedge funder Daniel Loeb and other wealthy business leaders held a Zoom call with Adams on April 26, the Washington Post reported. At that point, Adams had already sent police to Columbia once before, but protests ramped up shortly after their intervention.

Some of the business leaders — who also participated in a WhatsApp group — were pressuring Adams to do so again, with some attendees even raising the specter of political donations to the mayor.

Blavatnik was among those to donate to Adams’ reelection campaign, contributing $2,100 in April, according to a spokesperson for the billionaire. A spokesperson for Sitt said the developer did not contribute to Adams.

During the Zoom chat, where minutes were taken by Sitt, the group members discussed leveraging their positions to persuade Columbia’s president to bring the New York Police Department back on campus, as well as paying for “investigative efforts” to help the city.

Sitt declined to comment to the Post, but shared a donation link to Adams’ 2025 campaign the evening after the call.

A spokesperson for Blavatnik told the publication that other people on the Zoom said things Blavatnik “did not weigh in on or agree with” and that the Columbia alumnus only joined the Zoom to understand how the mayor “was thinking about the Columbia protests.”

But at one point, according to the Post, Blavatnik posted a picture of Adams and wrote, “He needs help.”

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

In a statement, deputy mayor Fabian Levy said, “The insinuation that Jewish donors secretly plotted to influence government operations is an all too familiar antisemitic trope that the Washington Post should be ashamed to ask about, let alone normalize in print.”

Police returned to Columbia’s campus on April 30 and arrested dozens of protesters. Columbia’s president requested police remain on campus through at least May 17.

Read more

Israelis in New York Real Estate Wrestle With Grief, Outrage
CRE players wrestle with grief, outrage over Hamas
Resi Players Respond to Israel Attack
Resi real estate players respond to attack on Israel
Francis Suarez Touts Miami’s Growth, Issues at The Real Deal
South Florida
“I take every opportunity to gloat”: Francis Suarez talks Miami’s growth, challenges at The Real Deal’s New York Forum 

Prominent names in the WhatsApp group include Howard Schultz, Michael Dell, Bill Ackman and Joshua Kushner. The group was started by a staffer for Barry Sternlicht, who never directly joined the chat.

The group, which expanded to roughly 100 people at one point, was started to “change the narrative” towards Israel’s favor after the country’s response to the Oct. 7 terrorist attack. Members of the group coordinated with the Israeli government to screen a short documentary detailing the gravity and horrors of the attack.

The chat shut down in May because it was no longer serving its initial purpose and many members had stopped participating, a source close to Sternlicht told the Post.

Holden Walter-Warner

This article has been revised to clarify and add details about Len Blavatnik’s participation in the group.