Jeffrey Soffer, owner of the famed Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, escaped a fatal helicopter crash on Thanksgiving Day in the Bahamas. A U.S. citizen was killed and four others, including Soffer, were injured when the copter crashed while trying to land at the Baker’s Bay Golf & Ocean Club on the north end of Great Guana Cay. Soffer, 43, was taken by air to the University of Miami Hospital and walked away with only bruises, according to the Miami Herald.
“They got into an air pocket and it went into a tailspin,” a Baker’s Bay employee, who wouldn’t give his name, told the Associated Press. “It recovered, and then it went into a tailspin again and from there it hit the ground. The tail came off and the cabin just went into a spin and somebody got thrown out.”
Soffer, a one-time boyfriend of model Elle Macpherson, is a principal at Turnberry Associates, a real estate company that has developed more than $7 billion in commercial and residential property. In 2005, along with the Plant family, Turnberry purchased the Fontainebleau Hotel. Soffer’s father Donald founded Turnberry more than 50 years ago, and, delving into Florida real estate in 1967, transformed a 785-acre tract of marshland along the Intracoastal Waterway in north Dade County into Aventura, a planned city bordering Miami that now encompasses the Turnberry Isle Resort & Club and Aventura Mall, Turnberry’s 2.8 million-square-foot shopping center.
Jeffrey Soffer joined his father’s firm in 1987, shortly after graduating from high school (he did not earn a college degree). A fixture on the Miami social scene, Soffer is known for racing Ferraris and has a pilot’s license. Madsummer, his 257-foot yacht, features a spa, movie theater, and a helicopter pad. Madsummer is now listed for sale.
The Soffer family has a long history of philanthropy. In 2008, Donald Soffer donated $15 million to his college alma mater, Brandeis University, the largest donation that school has ever received. He also has donated to various political campaigns over the years – in 2008, he gave $2,300 each to both John McCain and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns.
Of his son, the elder Soffer proudly says, “Now, my handsome and talented son, Jeffrey, runs the business; he is in the office now. I like the balance of work and love to golf and play tennis. I work out every day and need to stay active always.”
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