NY Observer: “On Big Rich Marin’s wild ride, what comes around goes around”; A tale of $20 New York Wheel rides and Africa Israel

“On Big Rich Marin’s wild ride, what comes around goes around”–NY Observer

At 20 bucks a spin, being taken for a picturesque ride on the world’s largest ferris wheel , Staten Island’s own New York Wheel, will set a family of four back $80. Of course, the NY taxpayer supported Staten Island Ferry that gets you to this private/for profit tourist mecca and Harbor Commons  outlet shopping mall,
is free–reminding me of what Colonel Tom Parker (Elvis’ manager,who was a carnival promoter and Tampa dogcatcher  before rock ‘n roll  was invented), famously said: “How much does it cost if it’s free?”

Elvis & The Colonel.

Before  becoming our big city carny, Big Rich (he’s 6’5″) Marin took the fall with Bear Stearns and restructured  Africa Israel”s distressed  real estate portfolio which includes that wild and crazy condo conversion,The Apthorp:

Courtyard At The Apthorp

Via New York Observer:

…”That November, Mr. Marin got a call from Izzy Cohen, the chairman of Africa Israel. The two had worked together on a joint venture in Israel, where Mr. Cohen oversaw the global real estate investments for the diamond magnate Lev Leviev. In 2007, at the height of the market, Africa Israel went on a madcap buying spree, picking up 22 marquee properties throughout New York, Vegas, Miami and L.A. for about $3 billion.

Among the projects here were the old Times Building, the MetLife clock tower and the Apthorp, where Africa Israel had initiated probably the most contentious condo conversion in a decade full of them. When Mr. Marin got to the portfolio, it was worth around $2 billion. By the time he had finished refinancing everything one, two, three times over, the debt load had reached a manageable $1.2 billion. “We never went into bankruptcy, we never lost a single building,” said Laurie Golub, Africa Israel USA’s former chief counsel. “Rich was always really proud of that.”

For all his hard work, Mr. Marin was fired on December 10, 2010, with none of his $1.25 million bonus. The explanation most often given is that Mr. Marin wanted to start growing the business, but Africa Israel had given up on America. Mr. Marin said he was not surprised, given what he sees as Africa Israel’s track record of mistreating its employees. “Maybe I should have been more careful about who I went to work for,” Mr. Marin said. “I went to work for Izzy, because I liked Izzy. I also welcomed the challenge. I didn’t do this for anybody else.”

“He took this huge steaming pile of shit,” said one colleague who worked with him at the time, “and got it down to a nice manageable size so it could be pooper-scoopered away. And how do they repay him? By tossing him into the pile.”


“Carousel” by Rogers & Hammerstien, the movie,1956  ending scene with Gordon Macrae, Shirley Jones (VIDEO):

Carousel Scene, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Strangers On A Train”, 1951 (VIDEO):

“It’s A Wonderful World”, Elvis Presley, “Roustabout”, (VIDEO):


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