From Kazakhstan to Fifth Avenue: How Tevfik Arif Leveraged the Trump Organization and Made It in the United States

The founder of Bayrock Group, Tevfik Arif, came to the United States with hopes of establishing a prosperous company and quickly began doing business with the Trump Organization.

Tevfik Arif was born in Soviet Kazakhstan but moved to the United States in 2001, where he founded Bayrock Group.

Many people dream of moving to the United States to  make it big, but only a few succeed. One of them is Tevfik Arif.

The man who founded the luxury real estate development firm Bayrock Group and partnered with big brands such as the Trump Organization was originally born in Soviet Kazakhstan. There, he grew up with his parents and brothers of Turkish descent.

While other kids played football, young Tevfik Arif became interested in business and economics.

As he grew older, he immersed himself in the subjects. Therefore, he began studying International Relations at the Moscow Trade and Economics Institute.

When he got his degree, he started working at the Soviet Ministry of Commerce and Trade. At the time, it was considered a very prestigious employer among the Soviet youths.

Over the next 17 years, Tevfik Arif worked his way up in the ministry’s hierarchy and ended up being the deputy head of the Ministry of Commerce and Trade’s Hotel Management Department.

Tevfik Arif enters the private sector

In the Soviet Union, there were only a limited number of jobs in the private sector. However, that changed when the union dissolved in the early 1990s.

The Soviets were introduced to a new world behind the Iron Curtain.

Then, Tevfik Arif seized the new and unexplored opportunities that came with the fall of the union.

He quit his government job and moved to the private sector.

He opened several businesses in the fields of food, automobiles, imports and exports, luxury real estate development and natural resources.

Tevfik Arif’s many start-ups in various sectors gave him an extensive domestic and international network. In 1993, it prompted him to move to Turkey to explore new business paths.

From all-inclusive in Turkey to business on Fifth Avenue

In Turkey, Tevfik Arif was among the pioneering forces behind the all-inclusive hotel concept introduced at the Labada luxury hotel in Antalya.

Tevfik Arif ended up staying in Turkey until 2001, when he moved to New York City.

He wanted to be closer to the American part of his family and to explore new business paths in the United States.

In New York City, he founded the luxury real estate development company Bayrock Group. It started out by doing small to medium-sized projects.

One of its first undertakings was the renovation of the Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza in the Sheepshead neighborhood of Brooklyn.

After multiple successful projects, Tevfik Arif decided to focus on larger projects. He also moved the company’s headquarters to the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in 2001.

Tevfik Arif decision to move Bayrock Group’s offices to the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue resulted in a lucrative deal with the Trump Organization.

Tevfik Arif decision to move Bayrock Group’s offices to the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue resulted in a lucrative deal with the Trump Organization

Bayrock Group signs with the Trump Organization

At Trump Tower, Tevfik Arif and Bayrock Group got acquainted with the Trump Organization.

The two firms formed business ties, and Bayrock Group included the Trump Organization in a project in New York City’s SoHo district.

Bayrock Group was already working with the Sapir Organization on the project in SoHo at the time. However, they thought that the Trump Organization could add some brand recognition and prestige to it.

Tevfik Arif drafted a plan that would give the Trump Organization 18% equity in the SoHo building. In exchange, the construction would use the Trump brand in its name.

Bayrock Group, the Sapir Organization and the Trump Organization all signed the agreement, and the construction of what would become Trump SoHo could begin in 2006.

The financial crisis of 2008 prompted Tevfik Arif to move

The 46-floor building opened to the public in 2008.

Inside, it featured apartments, hotel rooms, restaurants, bars, banquet and event halls, spa facilities and a pool. Floor-to-ceiling windows gave residents and guests an unprecedented view of New York City.

Rockwell Group oversaw the interior design, while Handel Architects was tasked with designing the building itself.

Both companies are veterans in their fields and have experience from all over the world.

Trump SoHo was off to a successful start. It prompted Bayrock Group and the Trump Organization to look into further joint business ventures.

They wanted to construct buildings in Florida and Arizona under the same licensing terms that would leave the Trump Organization with 18% equity in the buildings in exchange for adding Trump to their names.

However, their dreams were never realized because of the financial crisis that struck the world, and especially the American real estate market, in 2008.

The crisis led to a change in the market, which made Tevfik Arif leave the United States. Instead, he went to Europe and Asia, where his career began.

While he is retired today, he still remains an advisor to Bayrock Group.

Today, Trump SoHo has changed its name to the Dominick and is no longer owned by Bayrock Group.