In the fall of 2007, Vanity Fair magazine ran a fairly withering profile of Judith Giuliani outlining her rise from obscurity to her place beside the man at the top of the national polls for president. The author of the article, Judy Bachrach, was extremely detailed in her research going back through Judith Nathan’s childhood, marriages, jobs, romances, and her living arrangements.
Noticeably absent, at least to me, was any mention of where Judith Nathan was domiciled for the years 1999-2002. Ms. Bachrach made no mention in the article of where Mrs. Nathan lived prior to the Madison Avenue apartment where she and Mayor Giuliani presently reside.
In the fall of 1999, Donna Hanover lived in Gracie Mansion. Mayor Giuliani lived there too before decamping to an apartment with Howard Koeppel and Mark Hsiao on E. 57th St. I knew them both well and they lived just a few blocks from me. But where was Judith Nathan, the Mayor’s then current girlfriend residing? The Vanity Fair piece could possibly have mentioned Mrs. Nathan’s physical address, but only five people knew the circumstances surrounding how she obtained that apartment. None of whom would have spoken about them to Judy Bachrach.
This then, is how I became involved in securing subsidized housing for Mrs. Nathan.
Shortly after Mayor Giuliani began seriously dating Mrs. Nathan, but before it was public knowledge, I received a phone call from Tony Carbonetti, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff and my closest friend.
After working on both his losing 1989 campaign and his winning 1993 campaign, and holding a senior position at City Hall in his first term, I was at the time of the phone call President of the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) - a pseudo city commissioner. In short, HDC financed most of the low and all of the city’s subsidized middle-income housing. I had relations with all the major developers in the affordable housing industry, which included luxury housing developers.
Tony said he needed an apartment for someone. “Whose it for?” I asked. “Judith.”, he said. “Oh, ok.. . does he know you’re calling me?” I asked referring to the Mayor. “Yup, he knows,” Tony replied. “What does she need?” I wanted to know. “She wants a two-bedroom, two-bath, doorman, on the Upper East Side. Preferably, near Gracie,” Tony outlined for me. “What’s she willing to pay?” I asked. “No more than $1,800 but she’d prefer $1,500,” he responded.
WHOA! I took a very long pause. I then repeated back the specs he had just given me -with dripping sarcasm - to be clear that I understood him correctly. “Are you out of your fucking mind? That apartment you just described costs $3200-3700 a month. A developer would be taking a hit (I paused to think) of around $25 thousand a year. With a multi-year lease — my God — these are cheap bastards,” I said.
He completely ignored my point and came back with, “Oh yea, and she wants a choice.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “She wants to choose from a few different apartments and buildings, so you have to give her a selection,” Tony explained. “Jesus fucking Christ! For $1500???” I shot back.
Again ignoring me, he asked, “Can you do this? Do you know someone?” I thought for a long minute before saying, “Yes, I think I do know someone who’ll do this, but there’s one thing; I’ve never asked any developer here for anything like this, for myself or anyone else. I need to say this request comes from ‘On High’ or from City Hall. I won’t say Rudy or you. I’ll be vague, but I need to say ‘You over there.’ Is that OK?” I asked. Tony was fine with the arrangement. I told him the person I had in mind, if he could deliver, would be very discreet.
The person I reached out to was Jeff Blau, President of the Related Companies. HDC and Related had together produced a number of buildings as part of the federal government’s 80/20 housing program.
In exchange for receiving lucrative triple tax-exempt financing, the developer of an 80/20 sets aside 20% of his newly constructed luxury building’s units for low-income tenants. Manhattan is dotted with these buildings and almost no market-rate tenant knows that their neighbor is low-income and is paying a fraction of their market-rate rent.
I placed a call to Jeff and explained what I needed and where the request had come from within the parameters I had promised Tony. Within a day, Judith had a contact person at Related who showed her a selection of apartments and buildings and she selected one. I was required to stay involved and midwife this matter with phone calls back and forth between Related and City Hall until the lease was signed. Although I was incredibly busy Tony requested this of me because Judith would not be bothered dealing with the building or Related directly. The Mayor had to be kept informed at every step to make sure Judith was satisfied.
The difficulty for me with her living arrangement was that she had probably wound up living in a Related 80/20 building possibly financed with HDC bonds and even likely with a mortgage held by HDC. I never asked the address of where she lived just in case a reporter ever questioned any possible HDC connection. I could honestly say I had no idea where Judith Nathan lived. Having the Mayor’s girlfriend living in a government-sponsored building paid for with triple tax-exempt bonds, at a sub, sub market rate rent, having been negotiated by his appointee, would have been a scandal.
The further difficulty for me was that HDC was constantly involved in negotiating new 80/20 projects with Related. The inherent conflict in any 80/20 relationship is that the developer wants to devote as little of his building to the low-income tenants as possible. While the law states that 20% of the building’s units must be dedicated to low-income tenants, the developer can design the floor plans of the apartments to give the market-rate tenants, say 85% of the square footage, while the low-income tenants receive 15%. That is exactly what Jeff Blau was trying to do. The law is silent on that point. It is perfectly legal as long as 20% of the total units are dedicated low-income even if they are shoeboxes. That is of course if I were stupid enough to sign off on such plans.
Related was the most aggressive developer in trying to minimize square footage for low- income tenants. It was getting harder and harder to drive bargains with Related while they were playing landlord to the Mayor’s girlfriend. I knew if Blau went to Carbonetti, a friendship I had subsequently brokered, I would lose.
Fortunately, we stuck by our guns on all matters. We never caved on any square footage issues and always made sure that the amenities in Related’s 80/20 properties were up to the same standards as our other developers. Nevertheless, I always knew we could lose the battle should Blau or Related’s Chairman, Steve Ross, decide to pick up the phone. Rudy would never, ever side with us over Judy’s landlord.
Less than a year after she signed the lease, I was called out of a meeting in our boardroom to take an urgent call from Jeff Blau. We were currently working on another 80/20 deal so I was naturally concerned that he was dragging me out of a meeting. Our Judith Nathan business having concluded the previous year, my stomach dropped when Jeff said that he was sorry that he had to call me about a new Judith matter. God, I thought, what now?
Although I did not inform Jeff Blau of the identity of the tenant during our original phone call the year before, when the NY Post ran their famous picture of Rudy walking Judith home after a dinner date on the Upper East Side, I called him to let him know his tenant and that woman were one in the same.
He was calling to say that unbeknownst to me, or him apparently, Judith had wrangled a parking space in the building along with her apartment in the original lease. Related leased the concession for that garage; they did not control it directly. Somehow, Judith had not been paying anything for that space or a very, very nominal rate. In either case, the company that controlled the garage had asked her to start paying the full monthly rate. Well, Jeff explained, when the manager discussed the matter with Judith she threw a fit and became highly belligerent. She said she had no intention of paying for the space and made quite a scene.
The matter made its way up to Blau. He asked me what I would like him to do. “What are my options?” I asked. “I can tell them to eat this or tell her to pay. I can do what you want,” Jeff offered me. This whole thing was stupid and awkward for both of us. We were in negotiations about real issues and having to discuss Judith Nathan bullshit pissed me off. Tony had been telling me regularly how abusive she was to her NYPD INTEL detail and how they hated working for her. She treated them like flunkies. She had no class. She made them hold packages and her purse. Tony had told me repeatedly that INTEL perceived her as low-class.
I told Jeff Blau, “I’ll have to get back to you. I need instructions, as you can imagine. I’m sorry about this, Jeff.” “It’s no problem,” he said. I called Tony and explained the situation. “God Damn it!” he screamed. “I didn’t know anything about this. I’ll have to talk to Rudy right away. Let me call you back.” Sure enough, fifteen minutes later Tony called back. He had actually pulled Rudy out of a meeting for this.
“You’re not going to believe this. I can’t believe I’m telling you this. Will they really eat the cost? That’s what he wants. If Jeff offered, have them do it. It’s crazy, I know.” Tony said.
“This is really fucked up, Tony. I know he offered, but I did not think we would take him up on it. I thought we would do the decent thing here and start paying. None of us knew about this free space in the first place. This is really piggish. Is this really what YOU want me to do?” I asked. “No, it’s what HE wants you to do,” Tony said, referring to the Mayor.
“OK,” I said. “It’s just I’m in the middle of negotiations with this guy and you’re putting me in a really shitty spot; asking me to have him pick up the cost of this thing. It’s totally fucked up.”
Tony responded, “I know. He’s completely unreasonable when it comes to her. There’s no talking to him. You have no idea the shit I put up with on a daily basis because of her. I couldn’t even begin to try to make a reasonable argument to him for why this looks terrible. We’re stuck, I’m sorry. Let’s have dinner tonight. I gotta go, call me later.” He was off.
I called Blau and told him of the decision. He took it well and said he would handle it. As a businessman these were small costs that helped him in the long run with City Hall, I realized. Rudy would deny Related nothing now. They were bidding on lots of projects all over the city, including the massive Columbus Circle site. Most of those projects required mayoral approval directly or through a City agency.
That ended my involvement with Judith and her living situation. Jeff was very discreet and never mentioned it to anyone, so far as I know. I don’t think we ever discussed it again. My parents went to a small party in that apartment given by Judith Nathan and said it was an average upper east side apartment – nothing special.
Judith Nathan lived in that Related 80/20, 200 E. 94th St., until she and Mayor Giuliani moved into their Madison Avenue apartment. She paid the reduced rent and it never increased during her tenancy.
Rudy Giuliani and the MTA went on to select Related as the developer for the billion dollar redevelopment of Columbus Circle and the Time Warner project.
Shortly before leaving prison I listened to Rudy on ‘Meet the Press.’ A local radio station had a delayed broadcast which was a godsend since no TV was ever tuned to Sunday talk shows.
On the program, Rudy, in response to some Bernie Kerik and Judith questions, said that a security analysis had been performed by the NYPD prior to Judith receiving round-the-clock police protection. This was during the period in which he was still married and she was his girlfriend, prior to it being known publicly.
Russert rightly asks, “What could the threat be if no one knew of her existence?” Rudy says emphatically that the PD executed a security review that resulted in her receiving protection. That he had nothing to do with it and never ordered it.
That is a total fabrication. Rudy ordered her to receive that protection and Tony told me that Denny Young, the Mayor’s Counsel and main liaison to the PD, was not happy about it. No security review exists since none was ever performed. Rudy ordered the PD to provide round-the-clock protection for his then girlfriend – end of story.
Why? My guess is that he knew that it makes relationships run much smoother if your INTEL people can coordinate your schedules amongst themselves, saving you the hassle. He always knew where she was and it made life much simpler to have the cops rendezvous her detail with his wherever he happened to be.
I would say it just came down to logistics. I do not think it was to provide her with any regal trappings at that point. It just made his life easier to have her delivered whenever and wherever he happened to be. But these are cops we’re talking about and there has to be some security nexus to provide that level of protection. But there never was any.
If you know Rudy it’s easy to tell when he’s lying - his facial expression plus his habit of asking the questioner if he’s asking about something that he clearly is not. It’s a form of distraction and to buy him time to think of an answer. Watch that Russert interview, he does it a few times. Rudy is in fact a very bad liar. Which, on the one hand, is a great thing. But on the other, if you’re that bad at it, you should not attempt it with the frequency with which he does.
Last Judith point. During 2002 and 2003 when Rudy was out of office but giving 100K+ speeches around the country, Tony told me that serious problems developed surrounding Judith's participation at these events. It seems that not content with receiving the fee,the lavish hotel and accoutrement, plus the private Gulfstreams, Judith was charging thousands of dollars worth of items to the hotel and the sponsors of Rudy's speeches.
The sponsors were getting royally pissed at shelling out all this money for his appearance and then discovering in their wake huge bills for clothing and other items that Judith had charged. Tony said Rudy wasn't aware of this but neither of us believed that. Judith never stopped going to the speeches but Tony told me she had been made to stop the practice.