The Year in Review

Commercial Real Estate In Memorium: 2012

Irving Schneider, 1919-2012

Irving Schneider was co-chairman and COO of Helmsley-Spear Inc., a company he’d been with for over 50 years.

Along with Alvin Schwartz, Mr. Schneider was one of legendary New York real estate tycoon Harry Helmsley’s top lieutenants and fought a bitter battle for control of the company against the dying Mr. Helmsley’s wife, Leona.

At the time, Helmsley-Spear controlled about 100 Manhattan office buildings, including the Empire State Building and 1 Penn Plaza, and Messrs. Schneider and Schwartz sued Ms. Helmsley in 1996, claiming that she had siphoned as much as $40 million out of Helmsley-Spear and that she owed each of them $5.7 million in back pay, according to a 1997 report by the New York Daily News. Later that year, Messrs. Schneider and Schwartz bought out control of the firm. In a statement, Mr. Schneider said his association with Harry Helmsley was “the most positive business relationship” of his life, according to The L.A. Times.

An active philanthropist, Mr. Schneider was a member of the Brandeis University board of trustees and helped organize Brandeis fund-raising activities in Palm Beach for many years, according to the University. One of Brandeis’s most generous supporters, he funded construction of the $15 million Irving Schneider and Family Building at the Heller School, which opened in 2006. He also established the school’s Schneider Institutes for Health Policy. Brandeis University presented him with an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1983.

In addition to Brandeis, his philanthropic affiliations included the Schneider Children’s Hospital in New Hyde Park, N.Y., the Long Island Jewish Medical Center, UJA-Federation of New York, City College, the Jewish Communal Fund and United Israel Appeal.

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