Sam Zell

Sam Zell Cause of Death, Wife, Net Worth, Children

Who was Sam Zell?

Sam Zell was an American businessman, lawyer, and real estate investor. He was the founder and chairman of a private investment firm called Equity Group Investments.

What was Sam Zell’s Net Worth?

According to Forbes Sam had an estimated net worth of $5.3 billion as of 2023.

Sam Zell Age, Cause of Death

Zell was 81 years old at the time of his death. He was born on September 28, 1941, in Chicago, Illinois. He died on May 18, 2023. His company however did not reveal the cause of his death.

Sam Zell Family

Zell was born and raised by his parents Ruchla and Berek Zielonka who were Jewish immigrants from Poland. After migrating to the USA his parents changed their first and last names to Rochelle and Bernard Zell.

Zell went to Highland Park High School and later graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School.

Was Sam Zell Married?

Zell was married to his wife Helen Herzog Fadim Zell until his untimely death. He was previously married twice before meeting his third wife, Helen. Sam had three children Matthew, JoAnn, and Kellie.

Helen Zell and her husband Sam
Sam and his wife Helen Zell

How Did Sam Zell Make His Money?

Zell began making money while still in school. He joined the real estate business by managing properties in return for free room and board. By the time he was graduating from law school, Sam and his college friend were managing over 4000 apartments.

Zell was nicknamed ‘grave dancer’ due to his ability to buy dead assets and turn them into millions. He would buy cheap and abandoned properties and later renovate them into multimillion properties.

In 1968, Zell founded Equity Group Investments with his friend who joined him later Robert H. Lurie. They managed their firm until Robert’s death in 1990.

The Blackstone Group stated in 2006 that it would pay $36 billion to acquire Equity Office, making it the largest leveraged buyout in history at the time. The properties in the portfolio were then sold by Blackstone for record prices.

Most of the sold properties were “underwater” (worth less than the mortgage) by the beginning of 2009.

More than 400 trailer parks are owned by Equity Lifestyle Properties, which has come under fire for how it treats its renters.

Other Investments

The Schwinn Bicycle Company, the pharmacy Revco, the department store chain Broadway Stores, the energy firm Santa Fe Energy Resources, and the mattress maker Sealy were all owned by Zell Connections. He took control of Intel Corporation in 1985.

The successful radio broadcasting company Jacor Communications, Inc., which also operated a television station, was controlled by Zell’s Chilmark fund between 1992 and 1999.

In 1999, Clear Channel Communications purchased the business. The Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the rest of the company’s media holdings will be taken private under Zell’s sponsorship, the Tribune Company announced on April 2, 2007.

A day after taking the business private on December 20, 2007, Zell was appointed chairman and CEO.


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