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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ex-Cabbie Buys $40M Mansion

NEW YORK -- A former cabdriver from Georgia who made a fortune in Russian oil and Manhattan real estate has bought a Fifth Avenue mansion for a record $40 million.

Tamir Sapir said he signed a contract last week to buy a 1901 Beaux-Arts mansion across the street from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The price was the highest ever paid for a Manhattan town house.

Sapir, 58, left Georgia in 1973 and lived in Israel, Germany, and Louisville, Kentucky, before settling in New York in 1976. After driving a cab for three years, he opened an electronics store where he had visiting Russian diplomats as customers. His relationship with one customer, a Soviet oil minister, he said, enabled him to begin selling fertilizer and eventually oil contracts in Europe.

In the early 1990s, Sapir began investing in New York real estate and bought a downtown building for $2.2 million. He sold it one year later for nearly three times as much and has since bought several other Manhattan buildings.

Sapir said he was considering moving into the mansion's penthouse on the sixth and seventh floors with his companion, Elena Bonomareva, and their 2-year-old daughter.