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Robert Kaufman (1927-2016)

New York

New York City lost a legend last week when president of the William Kaufman Organization and Sage Realty Corp Robert Kaufman passed away at his home on Long Island. The builder, developer and skilled negotiator was 89.

He was known for his ability to close deals, and as Sage Realty VP and director of leasing Michael Lenchner tells us, he looked at it as much like an art as like a science.

“He could just form this chemistry—put everyone at ease and make sure we got the deal done,” Michael says. “I’m going to miss those types of transactions.”

Bob’s career included leading efforts to lease up 711 Third Ave in the early ‘50s and culminated with repositioning and filling 2.5M SF in the company’s portfolio over the past five years. He oversaw development and acquisition across the whole portfolio over a career that spanned 65 years.

Prior to WWII, the Kaufman Organization mostly built homes, apartments and industrial properties. After serving in the Navy, Bob and his late brother, Melvyn, led the transformation of the company into a major force in office development and repositioning in the city.

Rudin Management CEO Bill Rudin says Bob’s impact on the city can still be felt.

“He and his brother were innovative industry leaders who understood the importance of architecture and design in creating spaces that companies and workers would enjoy coming to,” Bill told us.

Bob assumed the role of president of Sage Realty, the leasing and management division of the Kaufman Organization founded by his father, William Kaufman, in 2010. Since that time, Bob and his grandson, Jonathan Kaufman Iger, CEO of Sage Realty, led the repositioning of every property in the company’s portfolio.

He served for more than 30 years on the Board of Trustees of North Shore University Hospital and North Shore LIJ Health System (now Northwell Health), and was on REBNY’s Board of Governors from 1974-76. He holds an honorary doctorate from Hostra University.

Michael, who has worked under Bob’s leadership for the past 26 years, said he was still choked up about the loss when we spoke this afternoon. To sum up knowing Bob, Michael had this to say: “The man taught me everything I know.”