Published On: Mon, Nov 18th, 2019

Tevfik Arif: Bayrock Group and the Trump Connection

Trump SoHo tower developed by Tevfik Arif’s Bayrock Group under a licensing agreement with the Trump Organization

Tevfik Arif is an established and successful international real estate investor and property developer. His success is no doubt a product of experience and business expertise accumulated over the years through his involvement in business ventures. 

Tevfik Arif, sometimes called Tofik Arifov, is a Turkish-Kazakh business entrepreneur well known for his global business ventures across Central Asia, Europe and the United States. Arif is recognized as a real estate and property developer. In the United States, he is well known for his business partnership with Donald Trump before he became president of the United States. 

His business dealings with the Trump Organization have brought an intense interest into Tevfik Arif. For many Americans, Arif has a kind of mystery around him that has over the years led to exaggerated claims and assumptions about his personality, character, motivations and past in general. 

Some individuals and groups have pursued an interest in uncovering, or rather creating, a particular narrative about Arif that suits their political purposes. This has threatened his reputation and his business ambitions. The bottom line is that not much may be publicly known about the businessman, as he is known to often keep and lead a private life. However, his contribution to the international business community cannot be overlooked or disregarded in any way. 

Arif built a successful international business enterprise situated in Central Asia and Europe even before expanding his business and its interests to the United States and his organization will continue to succeed in the future. Talking about his transition to the United States, it was what birthed the famous business organization Bayrock Group.

Arif’s Early Days

For someone who has attained such a powerful position and a name for himself over the years, one might want to know more about his background and early life. 

In 1953, Tofik Arifov was born to Turkish parents living in the former Soviet Union in what would become the modern-day country of Kazakhstan. Arif has three brothers. Not much can be said about his early years and family life as he has preferred to keep his personal life private. Nonetheless, it would be a reasonable to say that his ambition and enviable entrepreneurial work ethic were largely influenced by his early years and experiences. 

Arif earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the Moscow Institute of Trade and Economics. This further developed his interest in business and global trade systems. After graduation, Arif began working as a civil servant in the public sector, where he served for 17 years. During this period, he was a chief economist and deputy director of the Soviet Union’s Government Ministry of Trade in the Food and Hospitality Department. 

Arif’s Business Years

Tevfik Arif ended his career as a civil servant in 1991 after he left the ministry during the dissolution of the USSR. His ambitions shifted to the business world where he recognized an opportunity to invest in the enterprises and properties that were privatize during the economic restructuring that happened during that time. 

Being a former government officer, Arif was had many opportunities to network with business leaders and government officials. This set a strong foundation to connect and expand his interests in establishing his own company. Arif acquired the Akytyubinks Chromium Chemicals Plant (ACCP) in a joint venture between himself and his brother. He gradually began to attain global recognition within the natural resources sector, founding the Specialty Chemicals Trading Company, which imported and exported metals and raw materials. This, among many others, was the highlight of his early business projects. 

Arif’s Interest in Real Estate and Luxury Property Development

Tevfik Arif’s early success demonstrates his ability to compete and thrive in a high-stakes industry like real estate. Throughout his career, he has managed to negotiate complex deals and partner with powerful business leaders to build a global enterprise. In addition to his operations in raw materials and natural resources, Arif began to invest in real estate and property development. His major interest was in luxury residential and hotel development. 

Arif’s early investment projects were located and spread across Turkey, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. In fact, one of his early real estate ventures was the development and construction of the Labada Hotel in Antalya, Turkey. 

After achieving early successes in real estate investment, he looked to further expand his investment portfolio into other more lucrative and competitive markets. This led Arif to create a real estate investment firm in New York City called Bayrock Group LLC. As a seasoned investor, he had ambitions of exceling and flourishing within the competitive American market. 

Among the first set of projects successfully delivered by Bayrock was the development and expansion of Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza, a shopping center in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of southern Brooklyn. As one might expect, many of his first projects with Bayrock were small while he slowly, conscientiously and appropriately networked within the local market. After establishing himself, Arif decided to take on the Manhattan real estate space, and even in the intimidating New York real estate market, Arif stood out as a seasoned investor and entrepreneur. 

Bayrock Group and Donald Trump

Bayrock Group relocated its offices to Trump Tower in the center of Manhattan, and this put the firm in extremely close proximity to Donald Trump, whose offices were located in the building as well. In 2006, Bayrock and the Trump Organization announced a deal to develop a property known as Trump SoHo. This marked the beginning of a working relationship between the two firms. This was a project that saw the two companies come together to build a 46-story, 391-room luxury hotel that was developed and built by Bayrock and the Sapir Organization under a licensing and operating agreement with the Trump Organization. 

Under the terms of the contract, Trump had zero capital investment in developing the Trump SoHo tower, which was eventually completed in 2008. Rather, the developers of the project licensed the brand name-“Trump” in order to raise the project’s profile to attract property buyers and investors. 

These two organizations had plans to develop properties under similar licensing agreements in respective states, but the 2008 collapse of the housing market led to the end of the working relationship between Bayrock Group and the Trump Organization. Arif then saw a need to shift interests back to Central Asia and Europe, turning away from the American real estate market. 

Tevfik Arif’s leadership skills, ability to build connections, experience and extensive international business knowledge has afforded him an edge as an international entrepreneur. He has built an extensive international brand name and enterprise. Though partially retired now, Arif remains an advisor of his family’s global business, turning interests to some personal endeavors such as donating to charities and location organizations.

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