Jared was eventually able to preserve his control of the tower by ceding 49.5 percent of the building’s equity to Vornado, a publicly traded real estate investment trust. Mack, who is forty-nine, remained dimly aware that Jared had not forgotten their disagreement, but it was not until this past summer, when Elizabeth Spiers, a former editor of the Observer, wrote on her website about what she called “the Big Dick Mack Story,” that he realized the extent of Jared’s lingering animosity.
A look at Jared Kushner and where he came from
Very interesting profile of the Kushners by Vicky Ward in Esquire:
In the spring of 2011, right around the time Donald Trump was humiliated by Barack Obama during the president’s speech at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, placed a call to Richard Mack. Kushner was thirty years old, a decade and a half younger than Mack, but in many respects the men were peers. They were both scions of prominent real estate families, and in 2009 Mack and his wife had attended Kushner’s wedding, to Ivanka Trump. The two men were also business associates: Mack held some of the debt on 666 Fifth Avenue, a gleaming thirty-nine-story office building in midtown Manhattan for which Kushner had paid a record $1.8 billion in 2007.
Now, four years later, Kushner was calling about the tower, a symbol of immense importance for him and his family. Under the leadership of Jared’s father, Charles, the Kushner Companies had made hundreds of millions of dollars building and buying properties in New Jersey. But in 2004, future Trump surrogate Chris Christie, who was at the time the U. S. Attorney for New Jersey, indicted Charles in federal court on charges that included tax evasion, making false statements about campaign contributions, and hiring a prostitute to retaliate against his brother-in-law. After Charles pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison, Jared, who was just twenty-four, took over the family business. He sold the Kushner holdings in New Jersey and bought 666 Fifth Avenue. The significance of the deal lay not only in its size but in its location. Much as Trump’s renovation of the Grand Hyatt hotel three decades earlier had carried his family’s real estate empire across the East River from Queens, Jared’s purchase of 666 Fifth Avenue, just three blocks from Trump’s own trophy skyscraper, was an unmissable sign of the Kushners’ arrival in Manhattan.
By the time he spoke to Mack in 2011, Jared and his younger brother, Josh, had established a social and business beachhead in New York. Besides running the Kushner Companies, Jared was also the owner of the New York Observer, a once venerable newspaper. Josh had already started Vostu, a profitable social-game developer, and a venture firm called Thrive Capital.
Despite his evident success, however, Jared was in trouble: After the financial crisis led to a downturn in the rental market, the Kushner Companies risked an imminent default on the loans that had financed the firm’s purchase of 666 Fifth Avenue. Jared’s lenders were at his throat, and he stood to lose hundreds of millions of dollars, if not the entire building.
According to a source familiar with the call, Jared appealed to his friendship with Mack—”I am a really good person,” he insisted—and asked him to accept a substantial write-down of the loan.
Mack held firm. He had been unhappy with some aspects of how the Kushners managed the building, and, as he reminded Jared, he had a fiduciary responsibility to his investors.
Jared did not take the news well. According to the source, he began shouting into the phone, “I’ve been working my ass off!”
Mack was unimpressed. “I don’t know who the hell you think you’re talking to,” he said, and hung up the phone.
Spiers wrote that during her tenure as editor, in 2011 and 2012, Kushner had pushed for a hit piece on Mack. “If the tip he’d given me had checked out, it would have been a good story,” she wrote. “So I agreed to put a reporter on the story.” She gave the assignment to Dan Geiger, the Observer‘s real estate beat reporter. Kushner called Geiger and furiously complained that Mack was a “bad fiduciary” who’d moved money around to enrich himself at the expense of his investors. (Kushner declined to comment on the record for this article, but through his publicist he denied that his pursuit of the Mack story was related to the loan on 666 Fifth Avenue.)
Geiger phoned his contacts—as Spiers wrote, he “called everyone within a hundred-mile radius”—and found nothing. He sent Kushner a detailed email outlining what his sources had said.
For a week, Geiger heard nothing. Then Kushner called him and said, as if they had not already spoken, “There’s a guy named Richard Mack, and we’ve got to get this guy.”
Geiger was bewildered. He went to Spiers, who, he says, recognized Kushner’s obsession as the “illicit powder keg” it was. “Jared insisted that it was a reporting problem,” she wrote in the blog post. To humor her boss, Spiers assigned a second reporter to the story. He, too, got nowhere; once again, nothing in the story checked out. But even this was not the end of it. Jared told Spiers to ask one more reporter, who did not work for the Observer, to look into Mack. That reporter was me.
I turned down the assignment, even though I had been friendly with Jared for many years. At the time, I knew him to be bright, charming, and polished, a pious son of a devout Orthodox Jewish family. I had never been exposed to this side of him. As it turns out, however, this side of him exists. Geiger, who now works for Crain’s, has told people that the first thing that came to mind when he found himself embroiled in the vendetta was “This guy is like his dad.” . . .