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Milstein

MILSTEIN

MILSTEIN , U.S. family with vast interests in real estate, banking, and philanthropy. seymour milstein (1920–2001) was born in New York City and graduated from New York University. His father, Morris, had founded Circle Floor Company, which installed the floors at Rockefeller Center, the World Trade Center, and other buildings. Shortly after World War ii, Milstein joined a second company founded by his father, Mastic Tile Company. Both companies flourished in the postwar housing boom in the United States and in 1955 Seymour Milstein became Mastic's president. Four years later, the company was sold to Ruberoid, a building products company, for $24 million. Seymour became a Ruberoid director and vice president, but when it was bought by gaf in 1967, he was not offered a top job. Milstein and his brother tried and failed to take control of gaf. In 1970 the family took control of United Brands, a large food company, and Starrett Housing Corporation. They later sold the companies. In 1986 they took over the failing Emigrant Savings Bank and pumped $90 million into it.

In the early 1960s paul milstein (1923– ), who was born in New York City and graduated from nyu's School of Architecture, built the family's first apartment house, the Dorchester Tower near Lincoln Center. It was the first luxury building in that area since World War ii. He also developed two other Manhattan landmarks, 1 Lincoln Plaza in 1972 and 30 Lincoln Plaza in 1978. Two of the buildings overlook a plaza that is one of Lincoln Center's most popular thoroughfares, and it was renamed in Milstein's honor in 1992. In the 1980s the Milsteins built tens of thousands of apartment, office, and hotel units in New York. The Milsteins were also responsible for buying and refurbishing the Milford Plaza Hotel in the Broadway area.

During their partnership, Seymour Milstein handled the financial details and was in charge of dealing with banks. Paul was more boisterous, and they were classic risk takers. Then they became more famous for litigation than for development. In 1981 they promised city officials that they would protect the famous and fabled gilded clock and Palm Court lounge of the Biltmore Hotel, and then demolished both. For nearly five decades the brothers presided over a multibillion-dollar real estate and banking empire with three million square feet of office space, 8,000 apartments, and one of New York's oldest financial institutions, Emigrant Savings Bank, which in 2003 had 36 branches in the New York area. The brothers lunched together daily and took family vacations together, but in later years, as succession issues loomed, the rivalry between their sons escalated into a legal battle of operatic intensity. By the end, the brothers were no longer speaking. In 2003, the family ended a decade-long feud and withdrew several lawsuits against one another.

The Milsteins gave widely to medical, educational, and Jewish causes. Among Seymour Milstein's beneficiaries was New York Presbyterian Hospital, where he was chairman from 1989 to 1996. His family's $25 million gift, in 1989, made possible the construction of the Milstein Hospital Building, a ten-story addition above the Hudson River in Washington Heights. The donation was in the name of Seymour and Paul Milstein and their sister, Gloria Milstein Flanzer. Eight children of the three donors were born at Presbyterian. Seymour also supported research on interferon, the hepatitis and cancer drug. From 1964 to 1973, Seymour was chairman of Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center. He was also a founder of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and a contributor to many Jewish philanthropies.

In 1994 the family of Paul Milstein gave $10 million to Cornell University for its Architecture, Art, and Planning College. The New York Public Library was also a beneficiary of the Milsteins, establishing the Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History, and Genealogy, in 2000 with a $5 million gift. The division brought together microfilm and other research materials long scattered in other parts of the library and a specialized staff to handle public inquiries, particularly on genealogical research.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]

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