Tamir Sapir

Tamir Sapir Biography

Tamir Sapir (, birth name Temur Sepiashvili, ); *1948/49, Tbilisi) is an American immigrant from the former Soviet republic of Georgia who made millions bartering fertilizer and oil with the Soviets in the 1980s; he took most of his money and put it into New York real-estate. Tamir is in The 400 Richest Americans list of September 2008, number 246, with net worth of 1.9 billion dollars. In March 2010, he ranked 721st on the Forbes Magazine list of billionaires, with a net worth 1.4 billion dollars.

Early life

Tamir Sapir was born in the family of a senior military officer in 1948 or 1949 (it's known he was 25 years old when he arrived in the United States). In the early 1970s he studied journalism in Tbilisi University but had to earn money to support his family because of his father's death. His business was to fill out emigration forms and other documents for Soviet Jews.

He and his family (mother and young wife) emigrated to Israel in 1973 but in that time the Yom Kippur War emerged and Sapir (he changed his last name in Israel) moved to the United States. Tamir didn't speak English and was employed as a social worker in Kentucky. Then he became a taxicab driver in New York City. Saving up to buy an electronics store, he catered primarily to Russian clientele. Eventually he made contacts with the Soviet contingent to the United Nations in New York, and traded electronics for oil contracts, which he then sold to American companies. Investing the profits in Manhattan real estate in the 1990s, he became a billionaire by 2002. Sapir is sometimes referred to as America's "billionaire cabbie."

He is well known in Russia mainly by bringing suit against a Moscow oil refinery after it violated the terms of a contract by failing to transfer oil products for delivered equipment. Sapir won the case in 2005, but received none of the $28 million the Moscow company was ordered to pay.

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