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Profile of Real Estate Scion Stefan Soloviev – The Real Deal

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Real estate’s newest rock star, Stefan Soloviev, accepts his destiny
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Stefan Soloviev couldn’t make it to the VIP room after leaving the stage following his first public appearance. 
The mob of adoring fans clamoring to shake his hand and pose for selfies refused to let him slip backstage, where he could decompress following a wide-ranging conversation about his life as the son of the famously difficult late real estate billionaire Sheldon Solow.  
Soloviev, dressed in ripped jeans and a faded T-shirt, blond bangs swept low into his eyes, was unequivocally the main attraction at TRD’s annual New York gathering of industry power players in May. He frequently steered the conversation away from real estate, but the crowd didn’t hold it against him. As fan after fan held him hostage in a friendly embrace after the chat, real estate’s newest rock star, perhaps sensing the moment, threw his phone into the crowd.
“Add me on LinkedIn!” he shouted.
Unlike other scions who have been prepping for the dynastic role all their lives, Soloviev came to the business late, and in a roundabout manner. His appearance at an industry event came as a surprise. Soloviev has long shunned New York real estate due to a troubled relationship with Solow, who died in 2020. 
But since he came to the helm of Solow Building Company, Soloviev has gotten people talking.
Having inherited his father’s storied real estate empire, with assets such as 9 West 57th Street, 265 East 66th Street and an undeveloped parcel that’s vying to become New York City’s first full-fledged casino, he is beginning to embrace his destiny: He has plans to grow the empire and to maximize the value of his holdings on Long Island’s North Fork, where he owns 1,000 acres of land. 
In part to pay an enormous estate tax, Soloviev sold off an Upper East Side residential portfolio for $1.75 billion last year. He’s unrepentant about his true passion in life: The grain business he built on the plains of Kansas and Colorado, which allowed him to escape New York City and family politics. And though he’s now one of Manhattan’s most high-profile players, he continues to reject the status and trappings of the position, happy to play the role of industry outsider. 
“I didn’t need a fucking vineyard on the North Fork,” he said in a recent interview. “I’m a grain farmer.”
Soloviev may have been born with a platinum spoon in his mouth, but it left a bad taste. 
He has spoken candidly about the impact his troubled relationship with Solow had on him, specifically about their relationship at work.
“The way he acted and behaved and treated employees was deplorable, and he and I would get into arguments all the time. Going in there was kind of like going into a boxing ring,” Soloviev said, adding that he chose to reside in East Hampton when working with his father in New York City.
“That shadow of 9 West didn’t really reach me in East Hampton,” he said, referring to the famous building where his father held court. “Those two and a half hours [of commuting], I needed them to drive home and listen to music and separate myself from 9 West.”
He’s saving some of the finer details for his book.
“That shadow of 9 West didn’t really reach me in East Hampton.”
“The shit that’s going to be said in there is going to be stuff that’s going to be extreme, and it’s going to be unexpected,” he said. “There’s going to be some really good moments and some really dark moments.”
There were perks to being a billionaire’s son. Soloviev attended an all-star rotation of private schools: Dwight, Columbia Prep and Trinity-Pawling, though he said he wasn’t a diligent student.
“Trinity-Pawling was too structured for someone like me,” he said.
As a teenager, he dabbled in commodities trading after a trip to the New York Mercantile Exchange floor. He discovered he had a knack for it and can still rattle off the fine points of the trading strategy that led him to his calling among Great Plains grain farmers. 
While at the University of Rhode Island, he said, he grew bored with the social scene by his second year, and his father wanted him closer to home. 
“The girls bored me, you know?” he said. “It wasn’t like USC, so it was time to move on.” He evidently enjoyed his time enough to make a $3 million donation to the school in 2021 for a basketball facility.
He then enrolled at St. John’s University, where he played a season as the football team’s placekicker. He said he did well at first but got the yips and worsened as the season went on. He dropped out of school after his junior year. 
He went to work for his dad, but repeated arguments spurred him to walk out. In need of a change, Soloviev dropped the Americanized Solow for the Russian, pre-Ellis Island version of his name, moved out West and in 1999  got married. 
“The normality of living in a tract home,” said Soloviev when asked what he liked about the transition. “No one knew who I was, and that was a really nice feeling.”
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As a trader, he noticed opportunities in agriculture. Controlling the physical product, he realized, would give him an edge, so he started buying up farmland. 
What started as a few tracts of land soon burgeoned into a massive wheat operation. At the end of last year, Soloviev was the 26th-largest landowner in the country, according to the Land Report, with over 400,000 acres. 
In 2018, he bought a 120-mile defunct railroad out of bankruptcy, and in April he launched his first 110-car freight train, which he called “the most significant achievement of my life.”
Now that he can export his grain across the globe, Soloviev is taking aim at food processing behemoths like Archer-Daniels-Midland and Cargill, which have annual revenues in the $100 billion range, making pipsqueaks out of real estate giants like Vornado Realty Trust and SL Green Realty.
“It’s exciting being in this industry, exciting finding it, leaving New York at 23, being — not in a mean way — kinda mocked by my friends, my family, ‘Oh, you’re a farmer,’” said Soloviev. “Look what I became.”
Soloviev has worked hard to win over the rural communities he operates in. He says he meets each farmer he works with and pitches them face-to-face on his company, sometimes over a beer. 
“I’m from New York, that’s a strike, and my name doesn’t help,” said Soloviev, describing the suspicion over the out-of-town billionaire buying up farms in the heartland. “I will go to your house if you have 4,000 or 40,000 acres and tell you why I’m the better choice.”
Soloviev has now brought that hat-in-hand approach to business back home. Whereas his father often ignored tenants in their Solow  Building office tower at 9 West 57th, Soloviev has provided a direct line of contact. He said a tenant recently noticed trash left in a lobby and texted him a photo. 
“His dad really was not known to compromise,” said Soloviev Group CEO Michael Hershman, a longtime adviser to Solow. “When he had an idea or a stance, he wouldn’t budge from there. Stefan is far more open-minded and is far more attuned to the tenants’ needs.”
Soloviev appears to have gotten the last laugh: 9 West 57th Street is nearly 90 percent full, up from about half full when Solow ran the business, making it his most profitable asset, at least for now.  The 16-unit apartment building at 7 West 57th Street, dubbed the Rian, is half leased, a pivot from the previous for-sale strategy. The penthouse went for $40,000 a month. 
“They’re both entrepreneurs,” Hershman said of father and son. “Both of them are driven for success.”
As with any high-profile rebel, there have been controversies. A Business Insider profile last year included allegations that Soloviev “terrified” his nannies, which he denied.
“I’m a disrupter in an industry, powerful people can do things and can control things and can try to give you a black eye, but man, I bounced back so fast and I’m swinging so hard right now,” said Soloviev regarding past coverage. 
“I didn’t need a fucking vineyard on the North Fork. I’m a grain farmer.”
There was also concern on the North Fork about Soloviev’s plans to develop his farmland. Rumors spread like dust from a combine harvester until his ex-wife, Stacey Soloviev, who ran his North Fork operations, held a town-hall-style meeting at the Cutchogue New Suffolk Free Library, which drew over 100 people, according to the Suffolk Times.
Hershman and Soloviev confirmed they have development plans for Soloviev Group’s 1,000 acres out East, as well as a boutique hotel for the vineyard. Hershman said the goal is to build 70 homes, though he doesn’t have a timeframe. The project will be overseen by Hayden Soloviev, one of Soloviev’s 20-plus children, who is now leading his North Fork operations. Stacey Soloviev has shifted to running Soloviev’s wine bars in the city, according to Soloviev, who wants to focus his attention out West and in Manhattan.
“I don’t spend a lot of time having dinner at the Chequit hotel,” he said, referring to a property he owns. “That might be cool for some people.”
Though Soloviev once saw East Hampton as “a haven” from his father, he thinks that since Covid, the town has been transformed from charming to a suburb of sorts.
“The vibe was lost, and I’ll never, ever go back,” he said.
According to Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, up to 400 acres Soloviev owns on the North Fork had their development rights sold to the local government prior to his purchase. That leaves about 600 acres of developable land, or roughly 10 acres per house.
“When a lot of the land he bought has no development potential, there’s someone that’s demonstrated they’re making a commitment to farming,” said Russell. “The problem is when one party comes in and buys up a lot of farmland, it can be unnerving to a community, because they’re not really sure about their goals. But he’s talked and done a lot about hopefully allaying some of those concerns.”
Back in Manhattan, Soloviev is in the running for a coveted casino license. Were he to land it, he’d develop the 6.7-acre Midtown East parcel, dubbed Freedom Plaza, into a casino with a 1,000-room hotel, a 4-acre park, an office tower and residential buildings with more than 4,000 apartments. 
Hershman estimated that a decision on the license winner won’t be forthcoming until the end of 2024 at the earliest. Soloviev, who partnered with casino operator Mohegan Sun on the proposal, dismissed concerns that his application may not be approved.
“I don’t think about, ‘What if I lose?’” Soloviev said when asked what he would otherwise do with the 6.7-acre site, which his father bought in 2000 from Con Ed for $600 million. “I try not to lose.”
Real estate’s newest rock star, Stefan Soloviev, accepts his destiny
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
FONT SIZE
Stefan Soloviev couldn’t make it to the VIP room after leaving the stage following his first public appearance. 
The mob of adoring fans clamoring to shake his hand and pose for selfies refused to let him slip backstage, where he could decompress following a wide-ranging conversation about his life as the son of the famously difficult late real estate billionaire Sheldon Solow.  
Soloviev, dressed in ripped jeans and a faded T-shirt, blond bangs swept low into his eyes, was unequivocally the main attraction at TRD’s annual New York gathering of industry power players in May. He frequently steered the conversation away from real estate, but the crowd didn’t hold it against him. As fan after fan held him hostage in a friendly embrace after the chat, real estate’s newest rock star, perhaps sensing the moment, threw his phone into the crowd.
“Add me on LinkedIn!” he shouted.
Unlike other scions who have been prepping for the dynastic role all their lives, Soloviev came to the business late, and in a roundabout manner. His appearance at an industry event came as a surprise. Soloviev has long shunned New York real estate due to a troubled relationship with Solow, who died in 2020. 
But since he came to the helm of Solow Building Company, Soloviev has gotten people talking.
Having inherited his father’s storied real estate empire, with assets such as 9 West 57th Street, 265 East 66th Street and an undeveloped parcel that’s vying to become New York City’s first full-fledged casino, he is beginning to embrace his destiny: He has plans to grow the empire and to maximize the value of his holdings on Long Island’s North Fork, where he owns 1,000 acres of land. 
In part to pay an enormous estate tax, Soloviev sold off an Upper East Side residential portfolio for $1.75 billion last year. He’s unrepentant about his true passion in life: The grain business he built on the plains of Kansas and Colorado, which allowed him to escape New York City and family politics. And though he’s now one of Manhattan’s most high-profile players, he continues to reject the status and trappings of the position, happy to play the role of industry outsider. 
“I didn’t need a fucking vineyard on the North Fork,” he said in a recent interview. “I’m a grain farmer.”
Soloviev may have been born with a platinum spoon in his mouth, but it left a bad taste. 
He has spoken candidly about the impact his troubled relationship with Solow had on him, specifically about their relationship at work.
“The way he acted and behaved and treated employees was deplorable, and he and I would get into arguments all the time. Going in there was kind of like going into a boxing ring,” Soloviev said, adding that he chose to reside in East Hampton when working with his father in New York City.
“That shadow of 9 West didn’t really reach me in East Hampton,” he said, referring to the famous building where his father held court. “Those two and a half hours [of commuting], I needed them to drive home and listen to music and separate myself from 9 West.”
He’s saving some of the finer details for his book.
“That shadow of 9 West didn’t really reach me in East Hampton.”
“The shit that’s going to be said in there is going to be stuff that’s going to be extreme, and it’s going to be unexpected,” he said. “There’s going to be some really good moments and some really dark moments.”
There were perks to being a billionaire’s son. Soloviev attended an all-star rotation of private schools: Dwight, Columbia Prep and Trinity-Pawling, though he said he wasn’t a diligent student.
“Trinity-Pawling was too structured for someone like me,” he said.
As a teenager, he dabbled in commodities trading after a trip to the New York Mercantile Exchange floor. He discovered he had a knack for it and can still rattle off the fine points of the trading strategy that led him to his calling among Great Plains grain farmers. 
While at the University of Rhode Island, he said, he grew bored with the social scene by his second year, and his father wanted him closer to home. 
“The girls bored me, you know?” he said. “It wasn’t like USC, so it was time to move on.” He evidently enjoyed his time enough to make a $3 million donation to the school in 2021 for a basketball facility.
He then enrolled at St. John’s University, where he played a season as the football team’s placekicker. He said he did well at first but got the yips and worsened as the season went on. He dropped out of school after his junior year. 
He went to work for his dad, but repeated arguments spurred him to walk out. In need of a change, Soloviev dropped the Americanized Solow for the Russian, pre-Ellis Island version of his name, moved out West and in 1999  got married. 
“The normality of living in a tract home,” said Soloviev when asked what he liked about the transition. “No one knew who I was, and that was a really nice feeling.”
By signing up, you agree to TheRealDeal Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.
As a trader, he noticed opportunities in agriculture. Controlling the physical product, he realized, would give him an edge, so he started buying up farmland. 
What started as a few tracts of land soon burgeoned into a massive wheat operation. At the end of last year, Soloviev was the 26th-largest landowner in the country, according to the Land Report, with over 400,000 acres. 
In 2018, he bought a 120-mile defunct railroad out of bankruptcy, and in April he launched his first 110-car freight train, which he called “the most significant achievement of my life.”
Now that he can export his grain across the globe, Soloviev is taking aim at food processing behemoths like Archer-Daniels-Midland and Cargill, which have annual revenues in the $100 billion range, making pipsqueaks out of real estate giants like Vornado Realty Trust and SL Green Realty.
“It’s exciting being in this industry, exciting finding it, leaving New York at 23, being — not in a mean way — kinda mocked by my friends, my family, ‘Oh, you’re a farmer,’” said Soloviev. “Look what I became.”
Soloviev has worked hard to win over the rural communities he operates in. He says he meets each farmer he works with and pitches them face-to-face on his company, sometimes over a beer. 
“I’m from New York, that’s a strike, and my name doesn’t help,” said Soloviev, describing the suspicion over the out-of-town billionaire buying up farms in the heartland. “I will go to your house if you have 4,000 or 40,000 acres and tell you why I’m the better choice.”
Soloviev has now brought that hat-in-hand approach to business back home. Whereas his father often ignored tenants in their Solow  Building office tower at 9 West 57th, Soloviev has provided a direct line of contact. He said a tenant recently noticed trash left in a lobby and texted him a photo. 
“His dad really was not known to compromise,” said Soloviev Group CEO Michael Hershman, a longtime adviser to Solow. “When he had an idea or a stance, he wouldn’t budge from there. Stefan is far more open-minded and is far more attuned to the tenants’ needs.”
Soloviev appears to have gotten the last laugh: 9 West 57th Street is nearly 90 percent full, up from about half full when Solow ran the business, making it his most profitable asset, at least for now.  The 16-unit apartment building at 7 West 57th Street, dubbed the Rian, is half leased, a pivot from the previous for-sale strategy. The penthouse went for $40,000 a month. 
“They’re both entrepreneurs,” Hershman said of father and son. “Both of them are driven for success.”
As with any high-profile rebel, there have been controversies. A Business Insider profile last year included allegations that Soloviev “terrified” his nannies, which he denied.
“I’m a disrupter in an industry, powerful people can do things and can control things and can try to give you a black eye, but man, I bounced back so fast and I’m swinging so hard right now,” said Soloviev regarding past coverage. 
“I didn’t need a fucking vineyard on the North Fork. I’m a grain farmer.”
There was also concern on the North Fork about Soloviev’s plans to develop his farmland. Rumors spread like dust from a combine harvester until his ex-wife, Stacey Soloviev, who ran his North Fork operations, held a town-hall-style meeting at the Cutchogue New Suffolk Free Library, which drew over 100 people, according to the Suffolk Times.
Hershman and Soloviev confirmed they have development plans for Soloviev Group’s 1,000 acres out East, as well as a boutique hotel for the vineyard. Hershman said the goal is to build 70 homes, though he doesn’t have a timeframe. The project will be overseen by Hayden Soloviev, one of Soloviev’s 20-plus children, who is now leading his North Fork operations. Stacey Soloviev has shifted to running Soloviev’s wine bars in the city, according to Soloviev, who wants to focus his attention out West and in Manhattan.
“I don’t spend a lot of time having dinner at the Chequit hotel,” he said, referring to a property he owns. “That might be cool for some people.”
Though Soloviev once saw East Hampton as “a haven” from his father, he thinks that since Covid, the town has been transformed from charming to a suburb of sorts.
“The vibe was lost, and I’ll never, ever go back,” he said.
According to Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, up to 400 acres Soloviev owns on the North Fork had their development rights sold to the local government prior to his purchase. That leaves about 600 acres of developable land, or roughly 10 acres per house.
“When a lot of the land he bought has no development potential, there’s someone that’s demonstrated they’re making a commitment to farming,” said Russell. “The problem is when one party comes in and buys up a lot of farmland, it can be unnerving to a community, because they’re not really sure about their goals. But he’s talked and done a lot about hopefully allaying some of those concerns.”
Back in Manhattan, Soloviev is in the running for a coveted casino license. Were he to land it, he’d develop the 6.7-acre Midtown East parcel, dubbed Freedom Plaza, into a casino with a 1,000-room hotel, a 4-acre park, an office tower and residential buildings with more than 4,000 apartments. 
Hershman estimated that a decision on the license winner won’t be forthcoming until the end of 2024 at the earliest. Soloviev, who partnered with casino operator Mohegan Sun on the proposal, dismissed concerns that his application may not be approved.
“I don’t think about, ‘What if I lose?’” Soloviev said when asked what he would otherwise do with the 6.7-acre site, which his father bought in 2000 from Con Ed for $600 million. “I try not to lose.”
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