Tamir Sapir

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Tamir Sapir
Born Temur Sepiashvili
Tbilisi, Georgian SSR, USSR
Died September 26, 2014 (aged 67)
Residence Kings Point, New York, U.S.[2]
Ethnicity Jewish
Citizenship United States
Occupation Businessman, investor
Net worth Steady US $ 1.4 billion (est.)
(February 2010)[1]
Religion Judaism
Spouse(s) Bella Sapir (divorced)
Elena Ponomareva
Children with Bella:
--Alex Sapir
--Zina Sapir Rosen
--Ruth Sapir
with Elena:
--Zita Sapir
--Eli Sapir

Tamir Sapir (Russian: Тимур Сапир, 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.

Early life[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] Eventually he 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 were 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]

Personal life[edit]

Sapir has been married twice. His first marriage to Bella Sapir ended in divorce.[7] He has five children: Zina Sapir Rosem (born 1985), Alexi (born 1990), Ruth, Zita, Eli.[8] His second wife was Elena Ponomareva.[8] He was a member of the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan.[8] He built the Congregation of Georgian Jews synagogue in Rego Park, Queens.[9] Tamir Sapir died on September 26, 2014, aged 67.[10]


  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. ^ New York Observer: "Recent Divorcees with Hefty Settlements To Save New York Real Estate" by Irina Aleksander November 7, 2008
  8. ^ a b c Park East Synagogue: Memorial Service Tamir Sapir October 26, 2014
  9. ^ COLLive: "Tamir Sapir, 67, OBM" Sep 29, 2014
  10. ^ Notice of death of Tamir Sapir, therealdeal.com; accessed 3 October 2014.

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