Barry Stuart Sternlicht (born November 27, 1960) is a billionaire and the co-founder (with Bob Faith), chairman, and CEO of Starwood Capital Group, an investment fund with over $60 billion in assets under management. He is also chairman of Starwood Property Trust. He is the co-founder of Starwood and served as its CEO from 1995 to 2005.
Sternlicht serves on the Board of Directors of Invitation Homes, the Estée Lauder Companies Baccarat Crystal, Robin Hood Foundation Dreamland Community Theatre, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s National Leadership Advocacy Program, and the Business Committee for the Arts.
He has previously served on the board of directors of the Pension Real Estate Association and the Real Estate Roundtable. He is a past trustee of his alma mater, Brown University.
Sternlicht's style has been described as "intense and impetuous".
Early life and education
Sternlicht was born in New York City in 1960 and grew up in Stamford, Connecticut. His father, Maurycy Sternlicht, was a plant manager and a survivor of The Holocaust from Poland. His mother, Harriet, was from New York and worked as a biology teacher and stockbroker. In 1982, he graduated magna cum laude, with honors, from Brown University. He then worked as an arbitrage trader on Wall Street. In 1986, he received a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.
After graduation, he went to work for JMB Realty, a real estate investment company in Chicago. In 1989, at the start of the savings and loan crisis and the early 1990s recession, he was laid off.
In 1991, at the age of 31, with Bob Faith, Sternlicht launched Starwood Capital Group to buy apartment buildings that were being sold by the Resolution Trust Corporation, created by the federal government to hold and liquidate the real estate assets owned by failed banks after the savings and loan crisis. Sternlicht raised $20 million from the families of William Bernard Ziff Jr. and Carter Burden of New York to fund these purchases.
In 1993, Sternlicht contributed the apartment portfolio to Sam Zell's Equity Residential in exchange for a 20% stake in the company.
In 1994, at the age of 36, in partnership with Goldman Sachs, Sternlicht's company purchased Westin Hotels & Resorts in a $561 million transaction. Sternlicht's innovations included W Hotels and the Westin Heavenly Bed. The bed was modeled after the bed in Sternlicht's home.
In January 1995, Sternlicht purchased Hotel Investors Trust, an almost-bankrupt real estate investment trust, and took over as CEO.
In 1997, Sternlicht's company acquired Sheraton Hotels and Resorts in a $13.3 billion transaction, topping a bid by Hilton Worldwide.
In 2004, Sternlicht was named "America’s Best Lodging CEO" by Institutional Investor magazine.
In 2005, Sternlicht was inducted into the Interior Design Magazine Hall of Fame.
In 2010, Commercial Property Executive named Sternlicht "Executive of the Year" and "Investor of the Year".
Barry Sternlicht was married to Mimi (née Reichert) Sternlicht, who he met at Brown University, but they separated in 2016. They have 3 children together.
In 2016, Sternlicht moved to Florida.
In 2007, Sternlicht funded a $1 million grant to the Harvard Stem Cell Institute to support research for a cure for diabetes.
Sternlicht is a Republican. He is a friend and golf partner of Donald Trump but was disappointed in him as President of the United States. In 2008, Sternlicht donated first to the Hillary Clinton 2008 presidential primary campaign and then to the Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign. In 2012, Sternlicht contributed $70,800 to the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney. In 2016, Sternlicht contributed $125,000 to Right to Rise, the political action committee created to support the Jeb Bush 2016 presidential campaign. Sternlicht also contributed $1,000 to oppose 2008 California Proposition 8, which would have banned same-sex marriage in California.