Tamir Sapir

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Tamir Sapir
Temur Sepiashvili

DiedSeptember 26, 2014 (aged 67)
CitizenshipUnited States
OccupationBusinessman, investor
Net worthSteady US $ 1.4 billion (est.)
(February 2010)[1]
Spouse(s)Bella Sapir (divorced)
Elena Ponomareva
Childrenwith Bella:
--Alex Sapir
--Zina Sapir Rosen
--Ruth Sapir
with Elena:
--Zita Sapir
--Eli Sapir

Tamir Sapir (birth name Temur Sepiashvili, Georgian: თემურ სეფიაშვილი); 1946/1947 – September 26, 2014) was an American businessman and investor from the former Soviet republic of Georgia who made millions bartering fertilizer and oil with the Soviets in the 1980s; he took most of his money and put it into New York real-estate. He was included in The 400 Richest Americans List of September 2008 (#246), with a net worth of $1.9 billion. In March 2010, he ranked 721st on Forbes' list of billionaires, with a net worth of $1.4 billion.[citation needed]

Early life and education[edit]

Temur Sepiashvili was born to a Jewish family in Tbilisi.[3] His father was a major in the Soviet Army.[3] In the early 1970s he studied journalism at Tbilisi State University but left to earn money to support his family because of his father's death.


He took a job processing emigration applications for Soviet Jews[3] and in 1973, he immigrated to Israel with his wife around the time of the Yom Kippur War.[3] He changed his last name to Sapir while in Israel[citation needed] and moved to the United States first to Louisville, Kentucky where he learned English and worked as a bus driver, janitor and a loader; and then to New York City where he worked as a taxicab driver.[3] He then opened an electronics store with fellow immigrant Sam Kislin catering primarily to Russian clientele.[3]

Sapir made contacts with the Soviet contingent to the United Nations in New York, and started trading electronics, clothing, and footwear for Soviet oil and oil products which he then sold to American companies.[3][4] Investing the profits in Manhattan real estate in the 1990s, which was then in a slump,[3] he became a billionaire by 2002.[5] Sapir has been referred to as America's "billionaire cabbie".

Sapir brought a lawsuit in Russia against a Moscow oil refinery after it violated the terms of a contract by failing to transfer oil products for delivered equipment. Sapir won the case in 2005, but received none of the $28 million the Moscow company was ordered to pay.[6]

Sapir was a financier and development partner for the construction of the Trump SoHo in Manhattan in 2006.[7][8][9]

Personal life[edit]

Sapir was married twice. His first marriage to Bella Sapir ended in divorce.[10] He has five children: Alex Sapir (born 1980), Zina Sapir Rosen (born 1985), Ruth, Zita, Eli.[11] His second wife was Elena Ponomareva.[11] He was a member of the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan.[11] He built the Congregation of Georgian Jews synagogue in Rego Park, Queens.[12] He died on September 26, 2014, aged 67.[13]

His daughter, Zina Sapir and Rotem Rosen, the CEO of Africa Israel USA and close to Vladimir Putin's friend Lev Leviev of Africa Israel Investments, were married on December 20, 2007, at Mar-a-Lago with the Pussycat Dolls and Lionel Richie performing.[14] Friends of the couple, Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, were invited to the June 1, 2008, bris of their infant son.[14] Rotem Rosen was pivotal to Lev Leviev's April 2007 purchase of the Times Building on West 43rd Street for $525 million.[15]


  1. ^ a b "The World's Billionaires: #721 Tamir Sapir". Forbes. March 3, 2010.
  2. ^ Tamir Sapir's 56,000 square foot Long Island Compound Retrieved 2014-11-21.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Georgian Journal: "Georgian businessman's Hollywood story - From taxi driver to billionaire" May 13, 2014
  4. ^ The Real Deal: "A Cabbie’s Climb to Buy 11 Madison - in difficult real estate career, Tamir Sapir pieces together big holdings" by Stuart W. Elliott March 01, 2004
  5. ^ #410 Tamir Sapir. The World's Richest People, Forbes magazine.
  6. ^ Russia´s Highest Commercial Court Rejects Appeal by Moscow Oil Refinery in Favor of Tamir Sapir´s Joy-Lud, findlaw.com; accessed October 3, 2014.
  7. ^ Idov, Michael (March 28, 2008). "Trump Soho Is Not an Oxymoron". New York Magazine. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  8. ^ Hall, Kevin G.; Wieder, Ben (May 16, 2018). "Sources, new documents reveal depth of Trump's 2013 Moscow push". The McClatchy Company. Retrieved May 17, 2018. One of two potential sources of financing for the Agalarov deal, which was in place before negotiations began, was the family of Tamir Sapir, who financed the Trump Soho hotel and condo project in Manhattan in 2006.
  9. ^ McIntire, Mike (April 5, 2016). "Donald Trump Settled a Real Estate Lawsuit, and a Criminal Case Was Closed". The New York Times. The other development partner for Trump SoHo was the Sapir Organization, whose founder, Tamir Sapir, was from the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
  10. ^ New York Observer: "Recent Divorcees with Hefty Settlements To Save New York Real Estate" by Irina Aleksander November 7, 2008
  11. ^ a b c Park East Synagogue: Memorial Service Tamir Sapir October 26, 2014
  12. ^ COLLive: "Tamir Sapir, 67, OBM" Sep 29, 2014
  13. ^ away Notice of death of Tamir Sapir[permanent dead link], therealdeal.com; accessed 3 October 2014.
  14. ^ a b "High-Profile Bris on Sunday — You're Invited". New York Magazine. May 30, 2008. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  15. ^ Smith, Ben (May 4, 2007). "Meet the Mogul". New York Magazine. Retrieved January 21, 2020.

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