Can Larry Silverstein’s Heir Apparent, Marty Burger, Rise to the Occasion?
During a ski trip to Colorado several months ago, Michael May, an executive at Cantor Fitzgerald, remembers his eagerness to hit the slopes. He rose at the crack of dawn and found his friend Marty Burger, who had organized the trip, waiting in the lodge with the same idea in mind.
Traveling with a large group of executives, they skied all day. Mr. May remembers being exhausted, but Mr. Burger convinced him to join him and few others for some indoor tennis back at the hotel. A couple of games, at Mr. Burger’s urging, turned into a couple of sets.
Even after all that, Mr. Burger still wasn’t done with the day’s physical exertions. He arranged to take everyone back out to the ski trails, where they rode specially rigged snow bikes down the slopes with headlamps to see in the darkness. Then it was time to get to dinner. Mr. Burger planned a dining extravaganza and later insisted his 80 guests all go out for drinks, which stretched well into the night.
The next morning, Mr. May recalls staggering out of bed, sore from head to foot. Mr. Burger looked refreshed.
“He was up at 5:30 in the morning for a conference call with some investors in China,” Mr. May recalled. “But that’s Marty. I can get four or five hours of sleep for a few nights, but he’s one of those rare people who just doesn’t get tired when they don’t sleep, who just never crashes.”
Stories of Mr. Burger’s energy and endless work ethic abound among people who know him, and it’s these kinds of descriptions that Larry Silverstein must have encountered when, about four years ago, he quietly began asking friends and contacts in the real estate business for candidates to succeed him. Of course, Mr. Burger’s résumé would also check out. He’s had a charmed career working at Goldman Sachs’s vaunted Whitehall real estate investment fund, at Blackstone and, later, The Related Companies, where he became one of Steve Ross’s top deputies.
“I had spoken to a number of people who have high regard for him, and I appreciated his background,” Mr. Silverstein recalled during a recent interview. “Here was a guy who is talented at many areas of the business and has a lot of experience.”
Indefatigability, however, was a trait that Mr. Silverstein, a legendary negotiator who took the Port Authority into all-night bargaining sessions to try to hammer out various World Trade Center agreements, could particularly appreciate.
“He reminds me a lot of myself as a younger man,” Mr. Silverstein said.