Sam Zell, a Chicago real estate tycoon who amassed a multibillion-dollar fortune and gained the moniker “the grave dancer” for his prowess in bringing life back to static properties, has away due to complications from a recent illness.
He was 81.
Zell, a blunt-spoken man with a beard, delighted in defying conventional wisdom. He started as an apartment building manager while still a college student and had a golden touch with real estate.
When he was in his 70s, he had acquired a wealth that was thought to be worth $3.8 billion.
In 2007, Zell sold Blackstone Group Equity Office, the office-tower business he had spent three decades establishing.
A month later, he entered into another agreement that ultimately damaged his reputation: the $13 billion purchase of the struggling Tribune Co. The following year, the major media company declared bankruptcy.
Sam Zell was a self-made, brilliant businessman. Throughout his 60-year career, he founded and expanded hundreds of businesses, creating countless jobs.
Although he invested in various global businesses, Equity Group Investments said in a written statement on Thursday that he was best known for playing a crucial part in the development of the modern real estate investment trust, which is now a $4 trillion market.
The firm reported that Zell passed away at home.
In addition to his wife Helen, Zell is survived by his sister Julie Baskes and her husband Roger Baskes, his sister Leah Zell, his three children,
Matthew Zell, JoAnn Zell, and Kellie Zell with son-in-law Scott Peppet, as well as nine grandkids.