This week, Eliot L. Spitzer, the former New York governor, invited journalists to view his recent tax returns in his office in the French chateau-influenced Crown Building, on Fifth Avenue, which is doubling as his campaign headquarters. On the twenty-second floor, a gold-plated placard on the office door still bears the name of Spitzer’s father, Bernard. The lobby of the office features scale models of apartment buildings owned by the Spitzer family. But the details in Spitzer’s tax filings reveal that the senior Spitzer has quietly passed along much of his real-estate empire to his son, far more than previously has been revealed.
Bernard Spitzer, the son of Austrian immigrants, built a real-estate empire from scratch, after getting an engineering degree from City College of New York and working as a contractor. By the time the younger Spitzer graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law and became a prosecutor under Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, Bernard was one of the city’s most prominent real-estate magnates. The eighty-nine-year-old has been ill with Parkinson’s disease in recent years, however.