Posted July 19, 2011 at 3:55 am
by Anthony Effinge
Andy Beal’s road to becoming a billionaire, doing deals with the likes of Carl Icahn and Donald Trump, runs straight through the slums of Newark, New Jersey.
It was 1981, and Beal, then a 29-year-old vulture investor, was scoping out two 16-story apartment buildings owned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The bricks were chipped and bulging off the exterior of the buildings. Tenants had pried open the elevator doors and thrown furniture down the shafts.
Beal liked what he saw.
He and a partner bought the towers for $25,000 and a promise, backed by a $2.5 million letter of credit, to fix the bricks. They did the repairs — employing armed guards for protection when visiting the apartments — and never tapped the credit line before selling the buildings two years later to a New York doctor for $3.2 million, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its August issue.
In the past three decades, Beal has made a fortune buying distressed assets. He snapped up bonds of power companies during the California blackouts in 2001, debt backed by jetliners following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and billions worth of commercial and real estate loans after global credit markets froze in 2008.
In between, the investor with a restless mind started a company to build rockets and beat a rotating team of pros at Texas Hold ’em in the world’s richest poker game.