(JTA) — Paul Reichmann, a Canadian real estate developer and philanthropist who led the family’s Olympia & York company, has died.
Reichmann, whose family business developed the Canary Wharf business district in London and New York’s World Financial Center, died Friday in Toronto. He was 83.
He and his family lost most of their fortune in the early 1990s during the global real estate slowdown — the company went bankrupt in 1992 — but later were able to recoup some of it.
The Reichmann family donated up to $50 million a year to yeshivas, synagogues and hospitals around the world, according to The New York Times.
Olympia & York closed its construction sites on the Jewish Sabbath and Jewish religious holidays, as well as Christian ones. It paid overtime for workers on Sundays.
Reichmann was born in Vienna in 1930, two years after his family left Hungary. The family later fled to Paris when Germany annexed Austria, and then to Morocco.
After studying in yeshivas in Britain and Israel, Reichmann worked from 1953 to 1956 as the unpaid educational director of Ozar HaTorah, which runs Jewish day schools.
He and his wife moved to Toronto in 1957, where he joined the family’s Olympia Tile, which later became Olympia & York.
The company built nearly 100 buildings in the Toronto area during its first 15 years of operation.
He purchased eight Manhattan office buildings in 1977 for more than $300 million; 10 years later they were worth $3 billion. In 1980, the company was tapped to build the World Financial Center in New York.