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Real estate moguls battle over Empire State Building

By Laurie Bennett

April 29, 2013 at 11:10am

It may be that the biggest profits from the Empire State Building over its 82-year history have done to the legal profession.

Empire State Building
Empire State Building

Investors in the company that owns the skyscraper, Empire State Building Associates LLC, are in court, battling the Malkin family, a New York real estate dynasty that owns a minority interest.

The Malkins want to launch a publicly traded company whose assets would include the building.

Opponents, including investor Andrew Penson, who owns the Chrysler Building, say the plan would profit the Malkins at the expense of other stakeholders.

They also accuse the Malkins of undervaluing the building, dumping less valuable properties into the new company, and depressing the value of their investments.

It’s hardly the first time the iconic building has been at the center of a power struggle. Its succession of ownership has been so complicated that at times it has befuddled even the experts.

People still argue about what sort of arrangement Donald Trump had when he claimed title with Japanese partners.

Real estate titan Harry Helmsley also had partial ownership. The sale of his interest, which passed to his wife Leona and then to her estate, is one of the reasons the Malkins cite as reason for restructuring.

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