Thomas Kramer

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Thomas Kramer is a German-born real estate developer and venture capitalist, and television personality, noteworthy for his part in the redevelopment of South Beach, Miami, Florida. He is also a well-known high society figure and philanthropist, hosting charitable events at his Star Island (Miami Beach) mansion.


Haute Living credits Kramer's development many efforts with "transform[ing] the once-blighted community [South Beach] into a sophisticated, world-class destination." A list of prominent examples include Apogee, Portofino Tower, Murano Grande, and Yacht Club. Kramer claims to have developed these while Jorge Perez and Related Group actually did the work and the development on Kramer's land.[1]

His bold lifestyle[further explanation needed] and former marriage to Catherine Burda, daughter of a well-known German publishing family, made him a regular feature of European press prior to his arrival in the United States.[2] He is also known as a colorful and controversial public figure in Florida,[3] being associated with the gentrification of South Pointe, South Beach. His role and the results have attracted both broad praise and anti-development criticism.[4][5]

Early life[edit]

Kramer is the son a Frankfurt stockbroker Willi Kramer. He attended the Salem Boarding School on the shores of Lake Constance. He took up a brokerage apprenticeship in London and became a licensed broker. He afterward joined his father's firm, before moving on to Shearson Lehman Brothers. He founded his own company in 1986, TK Kapitalverwaltung GmbH, through which he made his famous 1987 windfall.[6][dubious ] He came to prominence as a stock speculator. He correctly predicted a sharp downturn in October 1987.[citation needed] German newspapers reported that he made approximately $30 million in profit.[6][7] Later he turned to the newly opened real estate market in former East Germany, perceiving an attractive entry opportunity. A flurry of negative press regarding the risks drove investors away.[7]

South Beach redevelopment[edit]

Kramer's entry into the Miami real estate market met with mixed opinions. He purchased large portions of South Pointe, the southern tip of South Beach, for $45 million in the early 90s. There were many doubts about his experience and ability to attract investors.[3] His initial negotiations with the municipal government of Miami Beach were well-known and controversial. The deal allowed him to consolidate his holdings in a land swap. It also cleared zoning to allow the erection of the tallest buildings south of Manhattan.[2]

Prior to the spate of development kicked off by Kramer's high profile investments, South Pointe was known as a high-crime poverty-stricken area. It is now a hot living destination for the wealthy. Condominium units in the upscale high rises sell for millions. There are a number of vocal critics of the developments. The high-rise and high density buildings are derided as a "concrete jungle." However, even critics concede that the development has changed the area in a pedestrian friendly, low crime neighborhood.[4]

The development area includes shops and pedestrian friendly designs. Progressive Architecture reported that the design guidelines negotiated with the city included, "sidewalks lined with shops, condo front entrances at sidewalk level, view corridors between buildings, and a 50-foot baywalk for public access."[5]

Investment in Pakistan Real Estate[edit]

Kramer signed an agreement with the Pakistan real estate tycoon, Malik Riaz to build first ever Island City in Karachi, Pakistan named Bundal & Buddo Islands. The deal is worth US $20 billion and the project is expected to complete in a span of 5 to 10 years. While signing the deal, Thomas Kramer mentioned that he has full confidence in the economy of Pakistan and this project will also leverage the interest of other international investors in the realty sector of Pakistan.[8] The deal fell through since Kramer failed to provide the necessary funds. "It was an economic nonevent ... The memorandum said that we were supposed to raise $20 billion within three months to continue, and I wasn't able to do that, so I guess it is", Kramer stated.[9]

FEC fine[edit]

Kramer was subjected to a record fine for an individual from the Federal Elections Commission. He donated to political candidates as a foreign citizen. This is illegal under United States campaign finance laws. Kramer contacted his lawyers and the FEC immediately upon discovering his contributions were illegal via an article in the Tampa Tribune. He claimed he had been unaware of the prohibition, pointing out that he is a prominent, public figure and known to be a German citizen.[10][11][12] He turned himself in to the FEC and immediately requested the refund of all political donations. The imposed fine was agreed upon as part of a voluntary conciliation agreement with the FEC.[11][12]

Howard Glicken[who?] pleaded guilty to criminal charges arising from the circumstance. He admitted soliciting donations from Kramer when he knew that Kramer was not a U.S. citizen.[13][14] Kramer stated in his affidavit to the FEC, "I speak English with a German accent and I believe most people who know me realize I am German. Nevertheless, no one who solicited or accepted my candidate contributions ever asked me about my immigration status, advised me that it was illegal for me to contribute, or rejected my political contributions because of my citizenship."[13]

Philanthropy and collecting[edit]

Kramer has become known as a philanthropist in recent years via the Thomas Kramer Foundation, his main charitable vehicle. He also regularly rents out his Star Island mansion for charity events since the payment supports him to pay his taxes.[1] He is also known for the purchase of famous art pieces below expected prices. A famous example is his 1992 purchase of "Woman in an Armchair", painted in 1932 by Pablo Picasso, for $2.86 million which was well below the expected price of $3.5 million to $4.5 million.[15][16]


  1. ^ a b "Haute 100", Haute Living 
  2. ^ a b Boyd, Christopher. "Sturm und Drang, South Beach-style. (German investor-turned real estate developer Thomas Kramer)." Florida Trend. 1996. HighBeam Research. (January 18, 2011).
  3. ^ a b Jeanne B. Pinder. "Developer Spends $45 Million on Miami Real Estate." THE JOURNAL RECORD. 1993. HighBeam Research. (January 18, 2011).
  4. ^ a b "Miami Beach, Fla., neighborhood nears point of build-out." Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. 2004. HighBeam Research. (January 18, 2011).
  5. ^ a b Whoriskey, Peter. "Miami Beach booms again.(South Beach is home to new buildings and architectural firms)." Progressive Architecture. 1995. HighBeam Research. (January 18, 2011).
  6. ^ a b "New Kid Buys The Blocks."Palm Beach Review. May 1992.
  7. ^ a b "The German Tycoon Making Waves In Miami Beach". BusinessWeek. 1994-07-24. 
  8. ^ Thomas Kramer signs $20 billions deal, The Nation, March 12, 2013.
  9. ^ Thomas Kramer: Sobe Bad Boy to Declare Bankruptcy, Live off Friends, Miami New Times, January 27, 2014.
  10. ^ Karen Gullo (20 July 1997). "German fined for campaign donations". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  11. ^ a b "RECORD CAMPAIGN FINE OF $323,000 IS LEVIED AGAINST GERMAN DONOR.(News)."Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Thomson Scientific, Inc. 1997. HighBeam Research. January 18, 2011.
  12. ^ a b "Record $323,000 Fine Levied by FEC; German Businessman Gave Illegally to Democrats and Republicans."The Washington Post. Washington Post Newsweek Interactive Co. 1997. HighBeam Research (January 18, 2011).
  13. ^ a b Hopkins, Kara. "Friend of Al admits raising illegal foreign money." Human Events. Human Events Publishing Inc. 1998. HighBeam Research. 18 January 2011
  14. ^ "GLICKEN ADMITS SOLICITING ILLEGAL DEMOCRAT DONATION.(News)."Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Thomson Scientific, Inc. 1998. HighBeam Research. (January 18, 2011).
  15. ^ Tully, Judd. "Auction; Heavy Casualties at Sotheby's."The Washington Post1992. HighBeam Research. (January 18, 2011).
  16. ^ "Museum in Texas Buys a Matisse for $11 Million". The New York Times. 1992. HighBeam Research (January 18, 2011).

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