Abraham E. Lefcourt

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Abraham E. Lefcourt
Abraham E. Lefcourt.jpg
BornAbraham Elias Lefkowitz
March 27, 1876
Birmingham, England
DiedNovember 13, 1932(1932-11-13) (aged 56)
Manhattan, New York
NationalityUnited States
OccupationReal estate developer
Spouse(s)Irma Viola Castleberg
ChildrenMildred Audrey Lefcourt
Alan Elias Lefcourt (deceased)

Abraham E. Lefcourt (March 27, 1876 – November 13, 1932[1]),[2] better known as A.E. Lefcourt, was a prominent real estate developer in New York City in the 1920s. All but forgotten today, in his lifetime Lefcourt was known as one of the city's most prolific developers of Art Deco buildings.[3] Describing Lefcourt in a 1930 newspaper article, The New York Times said, "No other individual or building organization has constructed in its own behalf as many buildings as are in the Lefcourt Group." [4]

Early life[edit]

Lefcourt was born Abraham Elias Lefkowitz March 27, 1876, to Russian-Jewish immigrants in Birmingham, England.[5] His family immigrated to New York's Lower East Side in 1882 where Lefcourt grew up in a predominantly Jewish and poor community.


Lefcourt began his career as a newsboy and bootblack. He became a prominent figure in the New York garment industry when he assumed control of his employer's wholesale business. His forays into real-estate began in 1910 with a 12-story loft on West 25th Street. He built many more structures in the area, including the Alan E. Lefcourt building, known today as the Brill Building, heralding the beginnings of the new Garment Center.

An entrepreneur, Lefcourt had numerous other business interests, including founding Lefcourt Normandie National Bank, which eventually became a part of JP Morgan Chase.[6][7]

Notwithstanding his success and a net worth reported to have been as much as $100 million in 1928,[8] Lefcourt's empire began to unravel during the Depression, with his company going into foreclosure and his buildings being auctioned off.[9] In 1932, with creditors pursuing him and others accusing him of fraud, Lefcourt suffered a heart attack in his Savoy-Plaza Hotel apartment and died at the age of 55.[10]

Personal life[edit]

He married Irma Viola Castleberg (1883–1949). The couple began using the surname Lefcourt around 1900 but did not officially adopt the name until 1909.[11] The Lefcourts had two children: Mildred Audrey, born in 1908, and Alan Elias, born in 1913. Lefcourt constructed the Brill Building in part as a memorial to his son Alan Elias who died of anemia in February 1930.[12] Lefcourt himself died on November 13, 1932, at the Savoy Hotel, leaving an estate of only $2,500.[13] Mrs. Lefcourt died in 1949 at Nantucket, MA; she was at the time of her death listed as a resident of the Savoy-Plaza Hotel.


Among Lefcourt's more notable real estate development projects:


  1. ^ "New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949". FamilySearch. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
  2. ^ Time magazine: "A.E. Lefcourt"
  3. ^ The City Review: Madison Avenue
  4. ^ NY Times: "Abraham Lefcourt"
  5. ^ World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 (M1509 ed.). Washington DC: National Archives and Records Administration. p. 4,582 rolls.
  6. ^ NY Times: "A.E. Lefcourt Bank Formally Opened"
  7. ^ Scripophily: Lefcourt Normandie National Bank
  8. ^ NY Times: "A.E. Lefcourt"
  9. ^ NY Times: "Auction of Lefcourt National Building"
  10. ^ NY Times: A.E. Lefcourt Obituary
  11. ^ Kobrin, Rebecca (Aug 20, 2012). Chosen Capital: The Jewish Encounter with American Capitalism. Rutgers University Press. p. 73.
  12. ^ Gray, Christopher (December 30, 2009). "Built With a Broken Heart". New York Times. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  13. ^ "AE Lefcourt Left $2500, No Realty; Builder of 20 Skyscrapers". New York Times. December 15, 1932.
  14. ^ Brill Building Archived June 16, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ VirtualNewarkNJ.com
  16. ^ NY Times: "Streetscapes"
  17. ^ Time magazine: "Unfreezing Assets"
  18. ^ Skyscraperpage.com: Lefcourt Colonial Building
  19. ^ Skyscraperpage.com: Lefcourt Empire Building
  20. ^ Skyscraperpage.com: Lefcourt Madison Building
  21. ^ Skyscraperpage.com: Lefcourt Manhattan Building
  22. ^ Emporis- Lefcourt National Building,
  23. ^ Skyscraperpage.com: Lefcourt Normandie Building
  24. ^ Skyscraperpage.com: Lefcourt State Building