November 20, 1936 |
|Education||B.A. University of Michigan|
|Occupation||real estate developer|
|Known for||co-founder of Sterling Equities
majority owner of the New York Mets
Fred Wilpon (born November 22, 1936 Bensonhurst, Brooklyn) is a real estate developer, baseball executive and the majority owner of the New York Mets. Wilpon was alleged by Irivng Picard, a trustee representing victims of Bernard Madoff's ponzi scheme of having known or that he should have known about the nature of the scheme. Wilpon and many of his corporate entities were also victims in this scheme, and the parties subsequently reached a legal settlement.
Early life and education
Wilpon was raised in a Jewish family in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. His father, Nathan Wilpon, managed a funeral home. Wilpon attended Lafayette High School in Brooklyn. Wilpon was a big fan of baseball and pitched his freshman year in college until he was injured. In 1958, he graduated with a B.A. from the University of Michigan. After college, he sold calculators for a time while his wife worked as a secretary for Branch Rickey, the former president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who he knew from the neighborhood.
In 1972, he cofounded Sterling Equities, a commercial real estate development company, with his brother-in-law Saul Katz. They built a development of townhouses in in Tarrytown, a suburb in Westchester County which was very successful. Seeking to minimize their tax obligations, they purchased real estate throughout the country that had favorable tax treatment which turned out to be a boon since they were unknowingly buying property at the bottom of the market.
In 1980, Wilpon bought a one-percent stake in the Mets when Charles Shipman Payson sold the team, with publishing company Doubleday & Co. holding the remaining interest. In 1986, Doubleday president Nelson Doubleday, Jr. sold Doubleday & Co., the owner of his interest in the Mets, to Bertelsmann AG. Wilpon had a right of first refusal in the event of a sale and threatened to exercise it. In the resulting settlement, Doubleday and Wilpon agreed to purchase the Mets for $81 million becoming equal partners in the team. In 2002, the Wilpon Family purchased the remaining 50% of the Mets from Doubleday for $135 million. Wilpon served as president of the team between 1980 to 2002, as Chief Executive Officer since 1980 and as Chairman of the Board since 2003. Wilpon currently serves as Chairman of Sterling Equities.
Madoff investment scandal
Wilpon was one of the investors who invested a significant amount of money with Bernard Madoff which was lost when the Ponzi scheme collapsed in December 2008. It was reported that Wilpon had "lost" about $700 million because of Madoff, which has led to speculation that he may be forced to sell the team. Since then Wilpon has said that his losses were "substantially less" than that figure. Reports later surfaced that Wilpon and his family actually made about $300 million with Madoff and had not lost money as previously reported. As a result in December 2010, Wilpon was named in a lawsuit filed by Irving Picard on behalf of the victims of Madoff's investment scandal and on January 28, 2011 Wilpon issued a statement seeking “one or more strategic partners” interested in buying 20 to 25% interest in the Mets to offset pending losses due to litigation (which may total up to $1 billion). Wilpon and his partner and brother-in-law Saul Katz were involved in another Ponzi scheme which was orchestrated by Samuel Israel III and they were forced to pay $13 million to investors when Israel's hedge fund collapsed. It was revealed that Wilpon utilized Madoff in running the Mets' finances. It became a common practice to negotiate deferred money into players' contracts and then put that money with Madoff to invest because they were able to make money for themselves before paying players. The lawsuit also contends that Madoff funds were used to cover team expenses such as payroll and its minor league club in Brooklyn, as well as financing the creation of the cable network SportsNet New York and Citi Field. In an interview while in prison, Madoff claimed that Wilpon "knew nothing" about his Ponzi scheme. After it was reported that Major League Baseball loaned the Mets $25 million in November 2010 to shore up their finances, Wilpon is now willing to sell up to a 49% ownership stake of the team at a cost of $200 million. On May 26, 2011, it was reported that Wilpon has agreed to sell a minority share of the Mets to David Einhorn, president of the hedge fund Greenlight Capital, but ended negotiations on September 1. After the Mets received a $40 million loan from Bank of America in November 2011, Major League Baseball is monitoring the situation closely and is prepared to take control of the team from Wilpon if he defaults on the loan. On March 19, 2012, Wilpon agreed to settle Picard's lawsuit for $162 million.
The Judy and Fred Wilpon Family Foundation donated $5 million to the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts to establish the Irene and Morris B. Kessler Presidential Scholarship Fund named in honor of his wife's parents, Romanian immigrant and dentist, Morris Kessler, and Irene Nass. The Wilpons have also donated $5 million to create the University of Michigan Bone & Joint Injury Prevention & Rehabilitation Center, and $4 million for the Wilpon Baseball and Softball Complex.
Wilpon is married to Judy Kessler who he met in college. She is a 1958 graduate of the University of Michigan. His daughter, Robin Wilpon, is married to Phillip Wachtler, son of former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, Sol Wachtler. His son, Jeff Wilpon, is COO of the Mets and the executive vice-president of Sterling Equities
As a teenager Wilpon was a teammate of Baseball Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax on Brooklyn's Lafayette High School baseball team. Wilpon and Koufax remain close friends, with Koufax an annual visitor at the Mets' spring training facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida and Koufax being asked to testify at the Madoff trial.
- Rubin, Adam (November 21, 2010). "Fred turning 74". ESPN.com. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
- New York Times: "Madoff Had Wide Role in Mets’ Finances" By SERGE F. KOVALESKI and DAVID WALDSTEIN February 1, 2011
- New York Observer: "Even During Series Mets Partners Spar, Endangering Stadium" By Andrew Rice October 30, 2010
- University of Michigan - Michigan Today: "NY Mets Owner Fred Wilpon, '58, Looks Back" April 15, 2013
- New York Daily News: "KIDS HAVE A PAL IN NEW PROGRAM" By Denis Hamill July 30, 2002
- Freedman, Alix M. (November 8, 1981). "Mets Owner A Big-League Builder". The New York Times. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
- The New Yorker: "Madoff’s Curveball - will Fred Wilpon be forced to sell the Mets?" by Jeffrey Toobin May 30, 2011
- Sports Illustrated: "Pays The Price" by Tom Verducci May 30, 2011
- "Sandy Koufax among those swindled by Madoff". Sports Illustrated. February 5, 2009. Retrieved August 13, 2009.[dead link]
- Klayman, Ben (August 28, 2009-08). "Mets owners will sell due to Madoff losses: author". Reuters.
- The New York Times http://mobile.nytimes.com/article?a=426115&f=27
|url=missing title (help).
- Belson, Ken; Sandomir, Richard (March 3, 2011). "Cuomo Has Held Talks With Both Sides in Mets Case". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2011.
- Cowan, Alison Leigh; Lattman, Peter; Kovaleski, Serge F.; Waldstein, David (January 29, 2011). "Trustee Seeks Hundreds of Millions From Mets Owners Over Madoff Fraud". The New York Times. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
- Cowan, Alison Leigh (January 31, 2011). "For Mets Owners, a Costly Precursor". The New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
- Kovaleski, Serge F.; Waldstein, David (February 2, 2011). "Madoff Had Wide Role in Mets’ Finances". The New York Times. Retrieved February 2, 2011.
- Futterman, Matthew (February 5, 2011). "Mets Need to Cover Expenses". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 5, 2011.
- Lattman, Peter; Sandomir, Richard (February 8, 2011). "Banks Could Have Key Role in Mets Suit". The New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
- Henriques, Diana B. (February 15, 2011). "From Prison, Madoff Says Banks ‘Had to Know’ of Fraud". The New York Times. Retrieved February 16, 2011.
- Kosman, Josh; Puma, Mike; Martin, Dan (February 26, 2011). "Mets' $25 million bailout". The New York Post. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- Sandomir, Richard; Waldstein, David (March 30, 2011). "Mets Seek $200 Million For Portion of the Team". The New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
- Thompson, Teri; O'Keeffe, Michael (May 26, 2011). "New York Mets owners agree to sell minority stake to David Einhorn, hedge fund president: source". Daily News (New York). Retrieved May 26, 2011.
- Sandomir, Richard (September 1, 2011). "Mets’ Deal With Einhorn Is Off". The New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
- Harper, John (December 14, 2011). "MLB is banking on Mets woes and may jump to take control as Wilpons will soon feel the financial squeeze". Daily News (New York). Retrieved December 14, 2011.
- Sandomir, Richard; Belson, Ken (March 19, 2012). "Mets’ Owners Pay $162 Million to Settle Madoff Suit". The New York Times. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
- University of Michigan News: "Celebration of Kessler Scholars; $10 million for need-based scholarships at U-M October 07, 2008
- New York Times: "Mets Are Prominent on the Madoff List, but Say They’re Fine" By RICHARD SANDOMIR February 5, 2009
- Appelbaum, Binyamin; Hilzenrath, David S.; Amit R. Paley (13 December 2008). "'All Just One Big Lie'". The Washington Post.