One of the keys to Blackstone real estate wizard Jonathan Gray‘s success has been his and the firm’s first mover advantage, launching a real estate fund early on and innovating along the way. It took nearly two decades, but almost everyone else in the private equity business has finally taken note and is flooding the market. Whether they can ever overtake Blackstone is another matter. Read More
In February 2007, Sam Zell told Jonathan Gray to buy a motorcycle.
Mr. Gray, head of the real estate division at private equity powerhouse Blackstone Group, had just closed on the purchase of Mr. Zell’s Equity Office Properties. Blackstone had announced its bid the previous November, just 13 months after Mr. Gray had stepped into his new role. He had spent his entire career at the firm, so his ascent was not so surprising, and had managed 10 deals worth a combined $32 billion so far, so the territory was not exactly new. All the same, Mr. Gray was 37 years old at the time, and he had embarked on the largest leveraged buyout in history.
On Jan. 18, less than a month before the deal was to close, Vornado Realty and two backers launched an unsolicited bid. It was $52 a share to Blackstone’s $48.50. Steve Roth, the bullish—in outlook, demeanor and build—chairman of the massive New York-based investment trust had arrived in the bookish Mr. Gray’s china shop, and it was now a scramble to fend him off. Read More
In this week’s paper, The Observer profiled the humble head of real estate at Blackstone Group, Jonathan Gray. He may be a mystery to those outside of the industry, but the hundreds of buildings, worth many, many billions of dollars, are not. From the Waldorf-Astoria to the old New York Times Building, from strip malls to budget hotels, Mr. Gray has had a hand in all of them. Take a very, very small tour of his holdings.