Who owns the Empire State Building? The building is owned by the Empire State Realty Trust, a real estate investment trust (REIT). The Empire State Realty Trust owns, manages, operates, acquires, and repositions various office and retail properties, primarily in the Manhattan and Greater New York City area. The Trust is publicly traded and has several investors and shareholders who own shares in the company. Anthony E. Malkin serves as the Chairman, CEO, and President of the Empire State Realty Trust. However, the building ownership is ultimately distributed among the company’s shareholders.
The Empire State Building is an iconic skyscraper located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Currently owned by the Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT), the building has passed through several hands over the years as its ownership changed.
1. Initial Construction and Ownership (1930-1961):
The Empire State Building was constructed by a consortium of companies, led by Starrett Brothers and Eken Inc, and commissioned by John Jakob Raskob, the former vice president of General Motors. After the construction was completed in 1931, the building was owned by a group of investors — the Empire State Building Company, a subsidiary of the Empire State Incorporated. These investors were John Jakob Raskob, Coleman du Pont, Louis G. Kaufman, and Ellis P. Earle.
2. Roger L. Stevens Ownership (1961–1969):
In 1961, the ownership of the Empire State Building changed when a syndicate led by Roger L. Stevens, a prominent businessman and real estate mogul, purchased the building for $65 million. Other investors in the syndicate included Harry B. Helmsley, Lawrence Wien, and Pierre du Pont III.
3. Prudential Insurance Company Ownership (1969–1991):
In 1969, Prudential Insurance Company became the owner of the Empire State Building, following a merger between the Helmsley-Spear Management and Wien’s interests. Harry B. Helmsley and Lawrence Wien served as managing partners of the building, even though it was owned by Prudential.
4. Empire State Building Associates (1991–2002):
In 1991, the Empire State Building Associates, a limited partnership led by Peter L. Malkin and Leona Helmsley, purchased the building from Prudential. This new ownership group was made up of interests held by the Malkin family, the Helmsley family, and Japanese investors. The building was still managed by Helmsley-Spear Management.
5. Trump Ownership Attempt and Legal Dispute (1994-2002):
In 1994, Donald Trump attempted to gain control of the Empire State Building by purchasing the master lease. A bitter legal battle ensued between Trump and the Malkin-Helmsley group, which ended in 2002 when Trump’s interests were bought out, returning control to the Empire State Building Associates.
6. Empire State Realty Trust Ownership (2013–present):
In 2013, the Empire State Building Associates merged their holdings with other properties to create the Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT). This real estate investment trust (REIT) went public on the New York Stock Exchange in October 2013, with the Empire State Building becoming one of its key assets. This means the building is now owned by the public shareholders of the Empire State Realty Trust.
Who was the original founder?
The Empire State Building was developed by John Jacob Raskob, who was the original founder and creator of the project. John Jacob Raskob was born on March 19, 1879, in Lockport, New York, to German immigrant parents. He began his career as a clerk in a railroad car manufacturing company, where he worked for about a decade. In 1900, he married Helena Springer Green, with whom he had 13 children. Raskob joined the Dupont Company in 1901, where he was a protégé of Pierre S. du Pont.
Within a few years, he rose through the ranks and eventually became vice president and treasurer of the company. In 1915, Raskob and Du Pont began investing in the General Motors Corporation, and Raskob joined GM as a vice president and treasurer. During his tenure at General Motors, he played a key role in developing the finance programs that made car ownership accessible to Americans in the early 20th century.
In 1928, Raskob resigned from his position at General Motors to focus on his own businesses and investments. This included founding the “Empire State Corporation” in 1929, with the intent to develop the Empire State Building. Raskob collaborated with architect William F. Lamb to design the building and the Starrett Brothers and Eken as the constructors.
Construction of the Empire State Building began in 1930, during the Great Depression, and the building was completed in 1931. It was the tallest building in the world at the time and is today considered an architectural icon.
John Jacob Raskob was also an active philanthropist and a prominent figure in the Democratic Party during his lifetime. He passed away on October 15, 1950, in Centreville, Maryland.
FAQ: Who Owns The Empire State Building
Who currently owns the Empire State Building?
The Empire State Building is currently owned by the Empire State Realty Trust, a publicly-traded real estate investment trust.
When was the Empire State Building built?
The construction of the Empire State Building started in March 1930 and was completed in April 1931.
How many times has the ownership of the Empire State Building changed?
Over the years, the ownership of the Empire State Building has changed several times. Notable past owners include Prudential Insurance, Helmsley-Spear, and Malkin Properties.
What was the cost of constructing the Empire State Building?
The total cost of constructing the Empire State Building was approximately $40.9 million, which is equivalent to around $600 million today, adjusted for inflation.
How tall is the Empire State Building?
Standing at 1,454 feet (443.2 meters) including its antenna, the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world upon its completion and held that title until 1970. The building has a total of 102 floors.
Can the public visit the Empire State Building?
Yes, the Empire State Building has observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors that are open to the public. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views of New York City and beyond.
Sources for More Information
- Empire State Building Official Website
- Reuters Article on Empire State Building Ownership
- New York Times Article on Empire State Building Mortgage
- ThoughtCo Article on Empire State Building Ownership History
Featured image provided by Roberto Vivancos; Pexels; Thanks!