He’s been called a “real estate baron,” a “rich scion” and even a “billionaire.”
Yet Robert Durst, the real estate heir who was arrested in New Orleans on murder charges, may be none of those things. While Durst is indeed wealthy, which no doubt has helped turn an old unsolved murder into a new media sensation, his wealth is a tiny fraction of the riches held by his family. And it’s unclear how much wealth he still has after his legal and personal troubles.
The HBO documentary on Durst, called “The Jinx,” doesn’t give an accounting of his current wealth. Yet reports suggest that he’s not a billionaire, he’s not a real estate baron and while he is a scion, he’s been essentially cut out of the family fortune.
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The Durst family’s real estate empire is worth more than $4 billion, according to the 2014 Forbes list. The family business started in 1915, when Joseph Durst, Robert’s grandfather, an Austrian-Jewish immigrant, bought a building on 34th Street in New York that year. Joseph’s son Seymour expanded the business to bigger skyscrapers in midtown and downtown. The family’s projects now include the Bank of America Tower near Bryant Park, the Conde Nast building in midtown and a partnership in the World Trade Center.
Yet in 1994, Seymour Durst made his younger son, Douglas, the head of the family business. Robert Durst left the business, but later waged a legal battle against the family to remove the family’s trustees for a larger share of the trusts and fortune. During that time, he reportedly received more than $2 million a year from the family trusts.
In 2006, he reached a settlement, with the family agreeing to pay him around $60 million to $65 million, according to report from The New York Times and other media.
It’s unclear how much of that $60 million has been spent on legal fees and other expenses. According to The Real Deal, he has dabbled in real estate investing in recent years, buying a portfolio of rental properties in New York’s Cobble Hill and Williamsburg as well as a $1.75 million townhouse in Harlem.
While he may not be as rich as his brother or family, Durst has never been hurting for cash. During his trial in Galveston, Texas, in 2003, in which he was acquitted of murdering a neighbor, Durst told jurors, “I’ve always had more money than I could possibly spend.”