Zygi Wilf

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Zygi Wilf
Zygi Wilf and Edward Masso cropped (1).jpg
Wilf in September 2007
Born Zygmunt Wilf
(1950-04-22) April 22, 1950 (age 68)
Germany
Residence New York, New York, U.S.
Occupation Real estate developer
Known for Owner of the Minnesota Vikings
Net worth $5.3 billion
Spouse(s) Audrey Wilf[1]
Parent(s) Joseph Wilf
Elizabeth Wilf
Relatives Mark Wilf (brother)
Leonard Wilf (cousin)

Zygmunt "Zygi" Wilf (born April 22, 1950) is an American billionaire real estate developer of Polish-Jewish descent. He is the principal owner of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings.[2]

Early life[edit]

Wilf was born in Germany on April 22, 1950. His parents, Joseph (1925-2016) and Elizabeth Wilf (1932-), are Holocaust survivors from Nazi occupied Poland.[3] The Wilf family immigrated to the United States from Europe in the early 1950s and settled in Hillside, New Jersey. After a brief stint as used car salesmen, Joseph and his brother Harry Wilf began purchasing apartment buildings and renting units. Eventually, the brothers began building single-family homes and founded Garden Homes.[4] A real estate developer, his two main family-run businesses, Garden Homes and Garden Commercial Properties, have constructed some 25,000 homes in 39 states across the country since their initial ventures; the two entities and their affiliates own and manage 25,000,000 square feet (2,300,000 m2) in retail and business property.[5]

Wilf attended Fairleigh Dickinson University, earning a bachelor's degree in economics in 1971, and later earned a J.D. degree from New York Law School in Manhattan. President Richard Joel presented him with an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from Yeshiva University in May 2010 at the university's 79th commencement.[6] Zygi, along with his brother Mark Wilf, serve as trustees of Yeshiva University.[7] He received an honorary degree at Fairleigh Dickinson's 69th Commencement Ceremony in May 2012.[8]

Career[edit]

After working as an attorney, Wilf joined the family business and became head of one of the company's affiliates, Garden Commercial Properties.[9] Wilf has grown the company from four shopping centers in Northern New Jersey to over a hundred properties, including several large malls. In addition to the commercial properties, the Garden companies also own and manage 90,000 apartment units around the country.

Minnesota Vikings[edit]

Wilf and five partners purchased the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League from Red McCombs in 2005 for a reported US$600 million.[10] Legal advisement for the deal was provided by international law firm Greenberg Traurig and now-Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren.[11][12] Forbes estimates the 2018 value of the franchise at US$2.4 billion, the 18th of the 32 NFL teams or the 33rd of the 50 most valuable sports teams.[13]

For several years, the Vikings and Wilf stated that their former home, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome was inadequate and had lobbied for a new stadium.[14][15] In May 2012, the Minnesota Vikings moved closer to getting a new $975 million stadium after the state Senate approved a plan that relies heavily on public financing.[16] Later that month the deal was signed by Gov. Mark Dayton and narrowly approved by the Minneapolis City Council, ending any speculation of relocation.[17]The new stadium, U.S. Bank Stadium opened in July 2016 on the site of the former Metrodome.

Nashville MLS team[edit]

In August 2017, Wilf, his brother Mark and his cousin Leonard became minority owners of the Nashville MLS team alongside lead investor John Ingram.[18]

Controversy[edit]

On August 6, 2013, Wilf, along with his brother, Mark Wilf, and cousin, were found liable by a New Jersey court for breaking civil state racketeering laws and keeping separate accounting books to fleece former business partners of shared revenue. The presiding judge noted that Wilf had used organized crime-like tactics to commit fraud against his business partners.[19] In September the judge awarded the two business partner plaintiffs Ada Reichmann and Josef Halpern $84.5 million in compensatory damages, punitive damages and interest that the Wilfs must pay.[20]

Personal life[edit]

In 2011, Zygi and Audrey Wilf purchased an apartment occupying the entire 18th floor of New York's 778 Park Avenue for $19 million, reduced from its original December 2009 asking price of $24.5 million while they still reside in their home in Springfield, New Jersey.[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ New York Times: "Rachel Goodman, Jonathan Wilf" March 4, 2011
  2. ^ "Front Office". vikings.com. National Football League. Retrieved 6 November 2010.
  3. ^ Williams, Brandt (2005-05-25). "NFL owners approve Vikings sale to Wilf". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  4. ^ "Garden Homes". www.gardenhomes.com.
  5. ^ G.R. Anderson, Jr., Eye of the Beholder, City Pages, January 3, 2007.
  6. ^ "Yeshiva University's 79th Commencement". Yeshiva University.
  7. ^ "Yeshiva University Trustees". Yeshiva University.
  8. ^ "Fairleigh Dickinson University Holds 69th Commencement on May 15". Fairleigh Dickinson University. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  9. ^ Garden Commercial Properties Archived May 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Borzi, Pat (August 19, 2005). "Vikings' Owner Makes a Name for Himself". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-12-23.
  11. ^ "Kevin F. Warren: Executive Profile & Biography - Bloomberg". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  12. ^ Spanberg, Erik (2012-04-30). "NFL owners approve Vikings sale to Wilf". SportsBusiness Daily. Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  13. ^ Badenhausen, Kurt (July 18, 2018). "Full List: The World's 50 Most Valuable Sports Teams Of 2018". Forbes.
  14. ^ City Pages - March 1, 2012 -Vikings, Rybak, Dayton, pro-Vikes legislators finally unveil stadium plan
  15. ^ Tom Goldstein "Vikings Stadium Proposal Isn't For The People", City Pages, March 14, 2012
  16. ^ "Senate approves plan for new Vikings stadium".
  17. ^ "City Council's Final Vote In Favor Of Stadium, 7-6". 25 May 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  18. ^ Garrison, Joey (August 8, 2017). "Wilf family, owners of the Minnesota Vikings, joins Nashville's MLS ownership group". The Tennessean. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-01-03. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  20. ^ Horowitz, Ben (September 23, 2013). "Judge announces damages of $84.5 million against Wilfs in long-running lawsuit". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  21. ^ "Minnesota Vikings Owner Gets Deep Discount at 778 Park". curbed.com. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2017.