Sam Zell Passes at 81, Equity Group Honors His Legacy
Sam Zell, a Chicago real estate magnate who earned a multibillion-dollar fortune and a reputation as “the grave dancer” for his ability to revive moribund properties died on Thursday. He was 81.
According to the Associated Press, Zell died at home due to complications from a recent illness, according to Equity Group Investments, a company he founded in 1968.
EGI put together a video of his legacy that you can watch below.
Bearded and blunt-spoken, Zell reveled in bucking traditional wisdom. He had a golden touch with real estate and got his start managing apartment buildings as a college student. By the time he reached his 70s, he had amassed a fortune estimated at $3.8 billion.
Zell sold Equity Office, the office-tower company he spent three decades building, to Blackstone Group for $39 billion in 2007. It was the largest private equity transaction in history, and Zell personally netted $1 billion.
A month later, he made another deal that ultimately tarnished his image: the acquisition of the ailing Tribune Co. for $13 billion. The media giant filed for bankruptcy the following year.
Zell is survived by his wife, Helen; his sister Julie Baskes and her husband, Roger Baskes; his sister Leah Zell; his three children, Kellie Zell and son-in-law Scott Peppet, Matthew Zell, and JoAnn Zell; and his nine grandchildren.