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What Makes Jared Run?

A Gen-Y overachiever bets he can turn a profit on a money-losing weekly newspaper. He says heïs used to being underestimated.

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Jared Kushner is a young heir in a hurry: A week ago, the 25-year-old’s only claim to public recognition was his father, the scandal-plagued billionaire developer and top Democratic donor Charles Kushner. Now he’s the new owner of the New York Observer, for which he reportedly paid $10 million, despite the fact that it loses $2 million a year. The other serious bidders, Robert De Niro and his Tribeca partners, were offering to pay nothing while promising to keep the paper going, an insider says. Kushner, who’s finishing up his law and business degrees at NYU, insists it can make a profit. He spoke to Geoffrey Gray.

How would you describe yourself?
Busy. 

Do you think you work too much?
I have major sleeping problems. I’d rather be up thinking about things than actually sleeping.

You started a real-estate company as a sophomore at Harvard. Was it awkward to sell a condo to a professor?
It’s great. Being young, it’s easy for them to underestimate me.

How does it feel to be getting all this attention?
It’s definitely not a natural thing. But this isn’t the first time I’ve seen my name and my family’s name in the press. You have to understand the separation between what exists in the print media and what exists in reality. It’s important to never lose track of reality.

So, what’s all the drive about for you? Making money?
Yes, it’s making money. But having fun doing it. The goal is to do things that are exciting and respectable.

What did you learn from your dad?
Growing up, around the dinner table my father and I didn’t talk sports. We talked business. He took me to job sites when I was 4 years old. He’d sit in the construction sales office and work, and he’d put me on the lap of this guy, Wedgie, who was digging out all these foundations. Sundays my friends would go to football games with their dads. I’d go look at new property to buy.

How did his imprisonment affect you?
I stepped up and assumed some responsibility probably before a time in my life when I was probably ready for it or wanted it. But it was a great thing. I learned a lot from it.

Was he treated fairly in the press?
I probably shouldn’t comment on this stuff. I don’t think this situation is about my father. It’s about me.

Can the Observer be a business?
I don’t like to think of it as real estate, but in the New York media market, the Observer is a great piece of real estate.

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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