Gary Barnett

The chairman and founder of Extell Development Company.

Barnett grew up in Monsey, N.Y., where he currently lives, and attended Queens College and Hunter College before he began his career in the diamond business in Belgium.

He began looking at real estate in order to diversify his family’s assets. Relatives and Belgian investors from the diamond, real estate and electronics trades figured that, as an American, “I have to know everything about American real estate,” Barnett told Commercial Observer in 2018. “Of course, I knew very little about anything. But I learned—and here I am.”

Barnett redeveloped the Belnord at 225 West 86th Street in the early 1990s with Ziel Feldman (now of HFZ) and Kevin Maloney (of Property Markets Group).

In the early 2000s. Barnett put up towers like the Orion in Hell’s Kitchen and the Ariel on the Upper West Side. and purchased the unfinished parcels of Riverside South that became the Aldyn, the Ashley, the Avery and One Riverside Park. That original purchase would put him at odds with Donald Trump, Riverside South’s one-time owner, a fact that Barnett is apparently nonchalant about.

“If you’ve been in real estate and interacted with Donald Trump and were not sued,” Barnett told CO, “you were doing something wrong.”

During the Great Recession, Barnett doubled-down on luxury with the development of One57, a condominium and Park Hyatt Hotel that commanded some of the highest residential prices ever paid in New York, including more than $100 million for a penthouse to Michael Dell.

One57 is widely credited with turning 57th Street into “Billionaires’ Row” and Barnett himself tried to duplicate his success with Central Park Tower.

He also struck in Brooklyn with another condo, Brooklyn Point, the tallest tower in the borough, and his company built One Manhattan Square in Manhattan’s Two Bridges area.