Edit Module Sam Zell | Chicago magazine
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Sam Zell

Founder and chairman, Equity Group Investments

Age: 74

Photo: Charles Osgood/Chicago Tribune

When this brass-tacks billionaire talks investing, people listen. Why wouldn’t they? Last year, three publicly traded real estate investment trusts that Zell controls delivered the largest returns of any in town. In October, one of those trusts sold off a quarter of its apartment properties for $5.3 billion, and Zell is reportedly selling more this year, worth about $700 million—leaving experts wondering if the market is cooling. In December he gave a headline-making prediction that the nation will slip back into recession in 2016. (Let’s hope he’s as right about that as he was about his disastrous 2007 purchase of Tribune.) His newest pursuits? Buying distressed natural gas and oil assets and hospitals. Ah … so when all those investors who lose their shirts in the next recession have heart attacks, they’ll need to use Zell gas to drive to Zell-owned hospitals. The Grave Dancer strikes again!

Power Quote “I am always looking for people to take me on. I have no shortage of sycophants.”

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