Who: The son of real estate developer Charles Kushner, Jared is also the proud owner of the Upper East Side's favorite weekly, the New York Observer. His wife is Ivanka Trump.
Backstory: Jared is the son of Charles "Charlie" Kushner, who inherited a real estate firm from his father and built the New Jersey-based concern into one of the largest development firms in the region over the course of the 1970s and '80s. (Kushner Companies now controls 5 million square feet of commercial and residential space in the Northeast.) Raised in Livingston, NJ as the second-oldest of Charles's four kids, Jared attended an Orthodox Jewish high school in Paramus before heading to Harvard (see below) and then enrolling in a joint JD/MBA program at NYU.
It wasn't until 2004, though, that the Kushner family landed squarely in the media spotlight. An investigation into Charlie's campaign contributions to New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey set off a messy family feud, with Charlie facing off against his brother and sister and ultimately being charged with attempting to compromise witnesses in a federal investigation. In 2005, he was sentenced to two years in prison for tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign contributions. But in 2006 Jared emerged from the shadows as the new, friendlier face of the Kushner family, making headlines when, just three years out of college, still a grad student at NYU, and with no media experience to speak of, he announced he was buying the Observer for $10 million from founder Arthur Carter.
Of note: Jared's purchase of the Observer followed years of speculation about the paper's fate. Carter had been seeking to sell off the money-losing weekly for years, and just a few months before the Kushners announced their purchase, Carter had been in active discussions with Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff. The Tribeca trio eventually walked—rumor has it they weren't willing to meet Carter's asking price—but he soon found a new buyer in the Kushner clan. 25-year-old Jared-who was earning his JD/MBA student at NYU at the time-proudly announced that he'd come up with the $10 million purchase price himself, thanks to the real estate investments he'd made while attending Harvard. (Jared didn't bother to explain just how he came up with the millions to invest in the Cambridge real estate market when he was all of 21, or why all of Charlie's kids were given stakes in the paper.) But if the Kushners were hoping to redirect public attention from père to fils, mission accomplished: In the aftermath of the acquisition, fresh-faced Jared became a sensation in media circles and the subject of half a dozen admiring profiles.
A good deal has changed since Kushner took over the Observer. Shortly after assuming control of the paper, he restyled it as a tabloid, beefed up real estate coverage, and redesigned the website. He also launched several local political sites under the name "Politicker.com." The onset of the recession and the sharp decline in advertising that followed, however, forced Kushner to pull back on many of his plans. In late 2008, he scaled back the network of Politicker sites he'd launched. In the spring of 2009, growing tension with longtime editor-in-chief Peter Kaplan resulted in Kaplan resigning from the paper. This was followed by a steep round of job cuts in which up to a third of the paper's editors and writers were laid off. Despite occasional rumors that he has been looking to sell the paper, Kushner appears determined to move forward. In June 2009, he acquired Very Short List, an email newsletter from Barry Diller's IAC; in August, he introduced the Commercial Observer, a weekly paper dedicated to the commercial real estate market; and in November 2009, he appointed a new editor of the Observer, former Portfolio editor Kyle Pope.
Jared has more on his plate than simply overseeing a small weekly paper. In recent years, he's also become very involved in his father's real estate empire. It was Jared who served as the public face of the company when his father agreed to pay $1.8 billion in January 2007 to acquire 666 Fifth Avenue, then the largest amount ever paid for a single office building. The onset of the recession and the deep impact it's had on the real estate market has forced Jared to spend much of his time over the past year shoring up the family's collection of holdings.
Campaign trail: Jared's political contributions date back more than a decade. He forked over $2,000 to Frank Lautenberg's Senate bid as far back as 1992 when he was just 11. (His allowance money, no doubt.) He seems to have learned from his father's mistakes, however: He didn't make a single donation during the 2008 election cycle.
Personal: Kushner married Ivanka Trump, the daughter of Donald Trump, in October of 2009. (Ivanka converted to Judaism in order to marry Kushner.) Prior to Ivanka, Jared dated Laura Englander, the daughter of hedge fund billionaire Israel Englander. The couple live in a two-bedroom duplex at Astor Place, an apartment Kushner bought for $3.225 million in 2009.
Family ties: Jared isn't the only Kushner with an eye on a media empire: younger brother Josh founded Scene magazine while a student at Harvard, which was pitched as a Vanity Fair for the Cambridge set.
True story: Jared's application to Harvard is discussed in detail in Dan Golden's 2006 book, The Price of Admission, which explores the system by which the extremely wealthy donate millions to universities to secure admission for their kids. Cited as one of the most egregious cases of pay-for-play, Golden revealed that Charles pledged $2.5 million to Harvard to gain admission for Jared, despite the fact his academic record hardly warranted it. "There was no way anybody thought he would on the merits get into Harvard. His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought, for sure, there was no way this was going to happen," Jared's high school English teacher told the author.
Full Name: Jared Corey Kushner
Date of Birth: 01/10/1981
Place of Birth: Queens, NY
High School: The Frisch School
Undergrad: Harvard University
Graduate: NYU JD/MBA
Residences: Manhattan (Noho)
Filed Under: Media, Real Estate
[Photos via Getty Images]