Wednesday, July 15, 2020
Home Life Style Robby Browne, Real Estate Player and Philanthropist, Dies at 72

Robby Browne, Real Estate Player and Philanthropist, Dies at 72

This obituary is a part of a collection about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic.

In a metropolis stuffed with actual property V.I.P.’s, Robby Browne was a reduce above.

Hillary Clinton got here to his Bridgehampton dwelling for lunch. Martina Navratilova swam in his pool. Uma Thurman went to his Halloween social gathering, the place he would gown up as Amal Clooney and Kellyanne Conway.

But on Saturday night time, after a three-and-a-half yr battle with a number of myeloma and a two-week bout with the brand new coronavirus, Mr. Browne died at his Central Park West house, based on Jason Moore, a detailed good friend and film director. He was 72.

One of Mr. Browne’s greatest actual property offers befell in 2003, when he orchestrated the $43 million sale of a penthouse apartment on the Time Warner Center. The purchaser was David Martinez, the founding father of Fintech, a monetary advisory agency, and the value was among the many highest ever for a Manhattan residence.

Mr. Browne wasn’t conceited about his success. He entered the actual property enterprise in 1986 after quite a few vocational false begins, and his biggest talent as a salesman was managing to not come off like one.

The youngest of 4 youngsters, Robert Mallory Browne was born on March 11, 1948, in Louisville, Ky. His father, William Kennedy Browne, graduated from Phillips Academy in Massachusetts and Yale University and was stated to work in enterprise. His mom, Elizabeth Willett Browne, went from waltzing with society swans to promoting mansions to them. Mr. Browne left no speedy survivors.

At 13, he, too, was shipped off to Phillips Academy. After commencement, he went to Princeton University, the place he distinguished himself as a partyer. “Robby used to say he was the worst student on campus,” his longtime good friend Colleen Keegan stated. “He was supposed to graduate in ’69, but it took him until ’71.”

With a bachelor’s in artwork historical past, Mr. Browne moved to Washington, the place he offered journey packages to prep faculty college students and Ivy Leaguers for an company known as Cowan Ladd Tours. He offered so many tour packages that the agency modified its identify to Browne Ladd. Washington was the place he went to his first homosexual bar, Lost & Found, as he inched his method out of the closet.

Next he went to Harvard Business School and, regardless of poor attendance, obtained his M.B.A. in 1978. He moved to New York City and located a type of dwelling at Studio 54 whereas he figured what he needed to do together with his life. He thought-about funding banking however flunked the interview with a financial institution consultant.

“He said, ‘Well if you don’t know what we do at the bank, you’re not the kind of person we want,’” Mr. Browne stated in a 27-minute documentary made about him in 2019 by Jeff Dupre, a detailed good friend and Emmy-winning filmmaker. “I said, ‘Well, if you can’t tell me what you do at the bank, then that’s not a place I want to work.’”

After that, he obtained it into his head that he would possibly wish to develop into a physician, so he enrolled at St. George’s University School of Medicine, a so-called second chance med school on the island of Grenada. His roommates, Mr. Moore stated, had been a nun and an ex-convict. They obtained their levels. He didn’t.

Mr. Browne started in real-estate at Halstead, specializing in Central Park West. Among his first offers was promoting an house to Ian Schrager, one among Studio 54’s homeowners, who had just lately been launched from prison for tax evasion.

In subsequent years, the flats that Mr. Browne offered obtained greater and his shoppers glitzier — amongst them, Ms. Thurman, Alec Baldwin, Denzel Washington and Mariska Hargitay.

In 2002, Mr. Browne went to the Corcoran Group, the place he received quite a few awards. In an interview on Fox 5 New York round that point, Mr. Browne stated he had gotten “hooked” into actual property “because I had such a passion for architecture.” But colleagues stated his actual love was being round folks.

He lived based on Gore Vidal’s precept that nobody ought to ever flip down the chance to go on tv or have intercourse. He knew the interiors of many Central Park West co-op buildings as a result of he had visited them (typically after going to homosexual golf equipment just like the Roxy, the Saint and the Sound Factory).

Mr. Browne was concerned with quite a few AIDS- and gay-related charities together with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (his brother, Roscoe, died of AIDS in 1985), Glaad (the place he was a board member) and Sage, which advocates for L.G.B.T. elders.

He was maybe finest recognized for Toys for Tots, which he began in his house in 1985 to offer toys for underprivileged youngsters. It grew to develop into a 2,500-person affair at Chelsea Piers, and former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was a daily. (It later modified its identify “Toy Party” to keep away from confusion with the well-known charity run by the Marines).

“I always saw Robbie as sort of a unicorn,” stated Corey Johnson, the speaker of the New York City Council. “He was like a Technicolor dream coat, this omnipresent person who everyone loved and got along with. I met him when I was 20 years old. I wasn’t in politics. I didn’t have any money. I didn’t know anyone, and he was sweet and kind and invited me to things. I was enamored of his whole aura.”

Mr. Browne realized he had a number of myeloma in 2016. Chemotherapy, radiation and a stem cell transplant didn’t work. Last fall, he underwent experimental immunology remedy. When that, too, failed he returned to radiation.

Friends grew involved because the coronavirus epidemic worsened. His hospital visits put him in danger. Two weeks in the past, Mr. Browne started experiencing flulike signs. The first take a look at for Covid-19 got here again unfavorable; the second was optimistic.

With his well being deteriorating, buddies prompt that he go to the hospital, however he thought he could be losing a ventilator. He was unable to rent a hospice employee, so a physician he had mentored, Deacon Farrell, arrived to look after him.

Mr. Dupre, who served as his well being care proxy, labored to get Mr. Browne’s affairs so as whereas combating off his personal coronavirus an infection. He had put collectively the documentary movie about him, titled merely “Robby,” final yr, when he realized that Mr. Browne, ailing with most cancers, won’t make it.

At the top of the movie, Mr. Browne is driving his azure-colored classic Chrysler on an empty street within the Hamptons. It’s the top of a wonderful fall day, the highest is down, his Labrador canine at his facet. The digital camera pans as much as the sky as Mr. Browne shares his philosophy of life.

“It’s so hard to find one’s way,” he stated. “So hard. And I’m a free spirit. For me, it’s been light and love and peace. I want people to live and be proud of who they are because there’s not much time. We’re all here. So let’s have fun.”


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