Georgian businessman's Hollywood story - From taxi driver to billionaire
13 May, 2014
Georgian businessman's Hollywood story - From taxi driver to billionaire
Richest Georgians can be found in nine other countries besides Georgia.
Davit Iakobashvili, Tamaz Somkhishvili, Davit Zhvania, Kakha Bendukidze, Levan Vasadze, Vyacheslav Mirilashvili – Georgians who got rich in various ways and periods of time. It is known that besides our country, these people live in nine different countries around the world. We will try to better acquaint you with them, their way of thinking and formulas of successful business.

Temur Sepiashvili, originally Tamir Sapir, is a Jew who emigrated
from Georgia and is now among the world’s richest people, with his net worth estimated at 1.4 billion dollars in 2010. But it needs to be said that by the time Sepiashvili took 721st place among 937 of the world’s richest people, his net worth was already reduced to 700 million.

His company possesses 2.5 million square metres of real estate in. He leads a rather interesting life that resembles a Hollywood movie. Once an ordinary student in Tbilisi, Tamir went to America in search of a better life and lucked out by pure accident. This is a joke, of course, but every joke has a grain of truth to it.

Sapir speaks four languages, has a 17-storey house in Mexico, a personal plane that he bought from Syria’s former president Hafez Al-Assad and one of the biggest yachts in the world. However, he frequently got involved in various scandals, but always managed to come out clean. It is said that Sapir never hides his past and remembers with a smile the Soviet times when he earned his first money.
Temur Sepiashvili was born in Tbilisi. His family owned three rooms at Khodasheni Street, 14. His father was a major in the Soviet Army. Upon finishing school, Temur began studying journalism at Tbilisi State University. He was in his fourth year when his family left Georgia and he had to discontinue his studies. “My classmate at the university was Stalin’s grandson Vasily, whom I was friends with. I’ll never forget the time when I invited him to my home and introduced him to my father. When my father realized whose grandson he was, he fell on his knees and wept tears of joy” – recalls Sapir.

Following the death of his father, Sapir’s family ended up in a difficult social situation. But Temur managed to find a way out – his friend, who worked in the passport system, taught him to process the passports for immigration to Israel, thus giving him a job. Back in the day there were long queues for passport-related matters, and Temur eagerly took to that new field of work, making quite a profit from it. He got married at the age of 24 and went to Israel soon afterwards. There was a war between Arabs and Israeli in 1973, so Temur decided to leave Israel and head to a small town in Kentucky. “I was ready to accept any job, so I ended up caring for elderly women. Every day I took them to a special facility where they entertained themselves by knitting, singing and other things. They were the ones who taught me English. Right next to me lived a rich man who owned several shops. He had a business selling tools and offered me to work for him.” – remembers the billionaire. He worked as a driver, janitor and a loader, while dedicating his free time to studying English and saving up money. In 10 months, his family came to live in New York and Temur Sepiashvili became a cabbie. “I worked day and night, because I wanted to buy out the car. I slept at the airport, waiting for the first flight to arrive. In six months, the taxi became mine. I made 300-400$ per day and had time to go with my family to the park, to the movies, to the restaurant”, - says Sapir. He had almost everything that was needed for a quiet life, but decided not to stop at that. Sapir knew that there is nothing to be gained without taking risks. One day he took all his savings as well as 10,000$ bank loan and, along with an emigrant Sam Kislin, invested it into opening an electronics shop on Broadway. “Emigrants visited our shop, mainly guests from the Soviet Union. What did they take back to their homes? Tape recorders and VHS’s,” Sapir recalls.

Former President of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze played an important role in his success. “Once USSR’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eduard Shevardnadze, visited my shop. One of his bodyguards, Murad Kazishvili, turned out to be my childhood friend. Back in the day, an organization existed called “Council for American-Soviet Trade”, in which over a hundred large American companies participated, among them “Occidental Petroleum Hammer” and “Pepsi-Cola”, which also had business ties with the USSR. With Murad’s help, I also joined this organization and went to Moscow with Vice-President Bush, who headed the Council,” Tamir says. According to him, during his stay in Moscow, one of his friends advised him to start exporting carbamide to America. This substance is necessary for oil production and during Soviet times it cost 5 times less than in the US. The Carbamide trade gave Tamir his first million and as he says, whet his appetite.

He exported American clothing, footwear and tech to USSR while importing oil and oil products from there, investing profits into real estate in New York. Prices on real estate were low in 1995-1996: for example, a skyscraper that is now estimated to be worth approximately 1.5 billion dollars cost just 17 million back then. Sapir got incredibly lucky; according to his own words, it was nothing less than divine intervention. In 1997, real estate prices grew and property that Sapir bought for miniscule prices was sold for colossal amounts of money. This is how Sapir got his first billion.

In order for Tamir Sapir’s biography to be complete, recollections of his classmate, Sergo Davlianidze, must be also mentioned. “We managed to be friends and also fight in the 60’s. My classmate from Tbilisi State School #45 was a boxing enthusiast, just like me. Who could imagine that he would become a businessman? He lived in a communal apartment near an Ashkenazi synagogue in Old Tbilisi, where all neighbors had to use the same water closet. Last time I saw Temur was in 1984 in Moscow, when he studied at Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs’ academy. He already had his own business then and offered to provide me with foreign electronics and tech if I wanted to. He was also present at an opening of a synagogue in Tbilisi in 2009, but I failed to meet with him then” – recalls Temur Sepiashvili’s classmate. It is noteworthy that the fact of émigré billionaire’s study at Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs isn’t featured in any of his biographies and neither does Sapir himself talk about this in his recollections.

Currently he lives in New York in one of the most expensive houses near “Metropolitan Museum”, which he bought for 40 million dollars long ago. It is not known whether Sapir owns real estate in Georgia or whether he has any business interest in Georgia, but local Jews benefit from his charity. It is known that he financed the restoration of “Beit-Rahel” synagogue in Tbilisi. Sapir has two children – daughter Zina and son Alexi, who are also his business partners.

Print
Other Stories
Georgian designers who participate in TBFW 2018
Mercedes Benz Fashion Week 2018 kicks off tomorrow, on the 1st of November and will last for 5 days, until the 5th of November.
Tusk of elephant Grand successfully removed in Tbilisi Zoo
Surgery of the elephant Grand in Tbilisi zoo was successful and is over now. Elephant can walk now but specialists still observe its condition.
International fashion exponents meet Georgian designers MBFW Tbilisi
If you’re interested in fashion then you should definitely add a new event to your agenda. Namely Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi that takes place from 1 to 5th of November.
Maryam d'Abo - James Bond Girl with Georgian roots
Giorgi Kvinitadze was a commander-in-chief of the Democratic Republic of Georgia.
Elephant to undergo surgery in Tbilisi Zoo
The elephant Grand is about to undergo the hardest surgery today on the 31st of October.
Best places to celebrate Halloween in Tbilisi
Halloween is celebrated on the 31st of October. It evolved from the Celtic holiday of Samhain which took place at the beginning of winter.
Bera Ivanishvili and Nanuka Gudavadze to get marry on the 11th of November
Son of the richest person in Georgia Bera Ivanishvili and the Georgian model Nanuka Gudavadze plan to get married on the 11th of November.
8-year-old girl killed in Gori - suspected murderer detained
The man suspected of killing the 8-year-old girl (with the initials I.N.) was detained today, on the 26 of October.
Audrey Hepburn with Georgian Emmy Award winner
Some photos keep whole stories. Especially one that are taken with famous people.
New clip by Bera Ivanishvili - Time machine
The richest man in Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili is very much involved in politics, but we cannot say the same about his children, especially about Bera.
Olivia Wilde and Lea Michele in David Koma dresses
Recently, InStyle has organized the fourth annual InStyle Awards.
Gregory Pekk and Marcello Mastroianni and their friendship with Georgians
Leila Abashidze was a famous Georgian actress. She was sometimes referred to as "Mary Pickford of the USSR".
Georgian singer Sofia Nizharadze’s sexy outlooks
Sofia Nizharadze is a Georgian singer. She represented Georgia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2010 with the song "Shine reaching the 9th place.
Beautiful Georgian Model Tamta Shedania tells her story
The model of Elite Model Look Georgia (an international modeling contest) Tamta Shedania worked with various Asian and European modeling agencies.
Ghanaian Eudosia Andoh – Everyday life in Tbilisi in photos
Eudosia Andoh has been living in Tbilisi for three and half years and has been travelling in different parts of Georgia.
Tbilisi Fashion Week SS 2019 ended
Tbilisi Fashion Week SS 2019 came to an end. The event has been widely reported in the international press such as Vogue, Marie Claire, ELLE, Harper's Bazaar, etc.
Tbilisi Fashion Week continues – What’s new?
Tbilisi Fashion Week continues. Foreign tourists, designers, models and special guests attend the event.
The first day of the Tbilisi Fashion Week SS 2019
Tbilisi Fashion Week SS 2019 has officially commenced.
Sophia Loren, Ornella Muti and their friendship with the Georgians
Georgia has numerous artists popular to the international public.
Tbilisi Fashion Week kicks off
Tbilisi Fashion Week is going to commence on the 18th of October. The slogan of the fashion week is “We Must Take Care of Nature”.
Georgian model Ana Akhvlediani becomes a mother
Georgian model Ana Akhvlediani became a mother. Ana Akhvlediani married to Giorgi Beraia in July, 2018. The couple has a daughter.
What do wives of the rich Georgians wear?
Famous Georgian faces pay great attention to look gorgeous when they appear in public or upload photos on social network.
Saddam Hussein’s Georgian Personal Advisor
A-83-year-old pilot Darwin Rukhadze from Georgia used to serve as a personal advisor of Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq.
What makes Japan so similar to Georgia?
Japanese people know Georgia and the Georgians well enough thanks to the Georgian Sumo wrestler Levan Gorgadze, also known as Tochinoshin.
Top 5 most beautiful Georgian models
Georgian models take part in popular international catwalks, photo shoots, fashion weeks and shows. They are very successful in Georgia as well as worldwide.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Exchange Rates
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
17.11.2018
18.11.2018
USD
1
USD
2.6727
2.6727
EUR
1
EUR
3.0268
3.0268
GBP
1
GBP
3.4240
3.4240
RUB
100
RUB
4.0447
4.0447
Other Stories
World famous British singer Jessie J has decided to wear clothes made by Anouki Areshidze, Georgian designer and wife of the mayor of Tbilisi.
Bassiani, one of the most popular underground clubs not only in Georgia but throughout Europe as well, has opened today
An amazing video made in Georgia by tourists from the Philippines have gone viral on the internet.
Over the recent two days May 12-13 Tbilisi city saw a peaceful protest rally in the center of the city.
Hundreds of people took to the main street Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi to protest the raid in Tbilisi’s popular night clubs.
Two bear cubs listed as endangered on the red list were handed over to Tbilisi Zoo,
Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze and Deputy Tbilisi Mayor Ms. Sophio Khuntsaria have gifted a food stand
Pamela Anderson, famous Canadian American actress and model has appeared in the chic sunglasses by internationally acclaimed Georgian designer George Keburia.
A ski lift accident in Georgia’s eastern Gudauri resort,in particular at Sadzele 5 lift, has left 8 people with injuries.
The ski lift in Gudauri winter resort in Georgia has broke down in the aftermath of which several people have been injured.
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.6727
EUR
1
EUR
3.0268
GBP
1
GBP
3.4240
RUB
100
RUB
4.0447
November 2018
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30