Tamir Sapir

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Tamir Sapir
Temur Sepiashvili

DiedSeptember 26, 2014 (aged 67)
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 a Georgian- 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.[2] His father was a major in the Soviet Army.[2] 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[2] and in 1973, he immigrated to Israel with his wife around the time of the Yom Kippur War.[2] 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 borrowing money for his medallion.[2][3] He then opened an electronics store with fellow immigrant Sam Kislin, Joy Lud International Distributors on Fifth Avenue, catering primarily to Russian clientele.[2][3][4]

Sapir made contacts with the Soviet contingent to the United Nations in New York, and started trading electronics, clothing, and footwear for exclusie rights to sell Soviet oil and oil products which he then sold to American companies.[2][3][4][5] Investing the profits in Manhattan real estate in the 1990s, which was then in a slump,[2] he became a billionaire by 2002.[4][6] 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.[7]

Sapir was a financier and development partner for the construction of the Trump SoHo in Manhattan in 2006.[3][4][8][9][10]

Sapir Organization[edit]

The Sapir Organization is a family-owned and operated real estate empire.[3] In 2006, Sapir named his son Alex the president and chairman of the Sapir Organization.[3][11] The Sapir Organization is a client with the Jones Day law firm.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Sapir was married twice. His first marriage to Bella Sapir ended in divorce.[13] He has five children: Alex Sapir (born 1980), Zina Sapir Rosen (born 1985), Ruth, Zita, Eli.[14] His second wife was Elena Ponomareva.[14] He was a member of the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan.[14] He built the Congregation of Georgian Jews synagogue in Rego Park, Queens.[15] He died on September 26, 2014, aged 67.[11][16]

His daughter, Zina Sapir and Rotem Rosen, the CEO of Africa Israel USA and close to Lev Leviev of Africa Israel Investments, were married on December 20, 2007, at Mar-a-Lago with the Pussycat Dolls and Lionel Richie performing.[17] Friends of the couple, Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, were invited to the June 1, 2008, bris of their infant son.[17] Rotem Rosen was pivotal to Lev Leviev's April 2007 purchase of the Times Building on West 43rd Street for $525 million.[11][18]

His three mansion estate, The Fountains was an expanded version of a 1928 mansion. It is located at 26 Pond Road, Great Neck, NY. It is currently for sale at an asking price of $70 million.


  1. ^ a b "The World's Billionaires: #721 Tamir Sapir". Forbes. March 3, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Georgian businessman's Hollywood story - From taxi driver to billionaire". Georgian Journal. May 13, 2014. Archived from the original on 29 September 2015. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Jones, David (July 31, 2009). "Sapir stares down the slowdown: Trump Soho developer plays big, but faces big obstacles". The Real Deal. Archived from the original on October 4, 2014. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Melby, Kaleb; Geiger, Keri (March 15, 2017). "Behind Trump's Russia Romance, There's a Tower Full of Oligarchs: Down on his luck, the mogul found help from émigrés from the old Soviet empire". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on March 17, 2017. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  5. ^ Elliott, Stuart W. (March 1, 2004). "A Cabbie's Climb to Buy 11 Madison - in difficult real estate career, Tamir Sapir pieces together big holdings". The Real Deal. Archived from the original on August 21, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  6. ^ #410 Tamir Sapir. The World's Richest People, Forbes magazine.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Idov, Michael (March 28, 2008). "Trump Soho Is Not an Oxymoron". New York Magazine. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ a b c "Sapir Organization's Tamir Sapir dies: Soviet émigré counted Trump Soho, 11 Madison and Mondrian Soho among company's holdings". The Real Deal. September 29, 2014. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  12. ^ Unger 2018, p. 217.
  13. ^ New York Observer: "Recent Divorcees with Hefty Settlements To Save New York Real Estate" by Irina Aleksander November 7, 2008
  14. ^ a b c Park East Synagogue: Memorial Service Tamir Sapir October 26, 2014
  15. ^ COLLive: "Tamir Sapir, 67, OBM" Sep 29, 2014
  16. ^ away Notice of death of Tamir Sapir[permanent dead link], therealdeal.com; accessed 3 October 2014.
  17. ^ a b "High-Profile Bris on Sunday — You're Invited". New York Magazine. May 30, 2008. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  18. ^ Smith, Ben (May 4, 2007). "Meet the Mogul". New York Magazine. Retrieved January 21, 2020.

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