Leonard Litwin, who built a residential real estate empire in Manhattan with his company Glenwood Management Corporation and exerted his influence as one of New York State’s largest political donors, died this past Sunday at the age of 102 at his home in Melville, Long Island.
Charles C. Dorego, general counsel for the Litwin family and Glenwood Management, confirmed Litwin’s passing to The New York Times.
Litwin was a prolific rental developer who built more than 8,700 units in Manhattan over the course of a career that began in the 1940s, when he entered the real estate business alongside his father, Harold.
Though the Litwins initially built garden apartments in Long Island as well as housing complexes in the outer boroughs, they ventured into the Manhattan market in the 1950s. Over the next half-century, Litwin would build an impressive portfolio of Manhattan luxury rental buildings.
While Glenwood initially focused on the Upper East Side, its holdings would eventually extend across the borough. The company’s Liberty Plaza building, a 45-story rental tower at 10 Liberty Street in the Financial District, was the first new building to rise in Manhattan following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
As his real estate empire grew, so did Litwin’s political influence. He became one of the most prolific political donors in both New York City and Albany, donating millions to politicians across the state. With that sway came controversy; Glenwood was drawn into the 2015 corruption investigations of Dean Skelos, the former New York State Senate majority leader, and Sheldon Silver, the former New York State Assembly speaker.
While Litwin and his firm were never implicated in the scandals, Glenwood’s activities were part of both investigations.
Among Silver’s crimes, he was found guilty of having coerced Glenwood into diverting its tax business to a law firm, Goldberg & Iryami, which was secretly sharing legal fees with the former speaker. In the Skelos case, the former Senate majority leader was found to have pressured Glenwood into referring his son, Adam Skelos, for jobs involving lucrative salaries and fees—including work that the younger Skelos didn’t perform.
Upon their convictions, Silver was sentenced to 12 years in prison, while Skelos and his son were sentenced to five years and six-and-a-half years in prison, respectively. All three men are appealing their convictions.
Glenwood was subsequently ordered to pay $200,000 in fines by state ethics investigators last December for violating lobbying laws.
At the time of his passing, Litwin was chairman emeritus for life of the Real Estate Board of New York. As of 2007, his net worth was pegged at $1 billion, according to Forbes.
According to the Times, Litwin is survived by two daughters, Glenwood President Carole Litwin Pittelman, and Diane Miller, as well as four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Litwin’s wife, Ruth, died in 2014.
Glenwood Management could not immediately be reached for comment.