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Nir Meir Has Been Arrested

The former HFZ developer, who oversaw a $2 billion debacle along the High Line, is facing extradition to New York.

Photo: Zach Hilty/BFA/Shutterstock
Photo: Zach Hilty/BFA/Shutterstock

Nir Meir, the former managing director of the luxury real-estate development firm HFZ Capital, was arrested in South Beach yesterday evening on an out-of-state warrant, according to Miami-Dade County records. Meir is facing extradition to New York, where he is likely to face charges stemming from an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg. Meir’s attorney, Gary Rosen, declined to comment, as did Bragg’s office.

Meir was arrested at the 1 Hotel South Beach residences, where he’d been renting an apartment, according to someone familiar with the arrest. It’s the nadir of an astounding fall for the developer. Just a few years ago, HFZ was among the glitziest and most aggressive real-estate development firms in Manhattan. As the protégé to HFZ’s founder, Ziel Feldman, Meir oversaw the company’s biggest projects, including the XI (now called One High Line), a $2 billion megadevelopment designed by the architect Bjarke Ingels.

Among colleagues, Meir had a reputation as an aggressive dealmaker with a gift for wooing international investors, like the secretive diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz. Meir maintained an extravagant lifestyle: He and his wife, Ranee Bartolacci, built a beachfront mansion in the Hamptons that Patriots owner Robert Kraft would later buy for $43 million. He collected wine and exotic cars and, on weekends, he flew in sushi chefs for private omakase dinners.

Meanwhile, at work, Meir dodged bills. As detailed in a New York Magazine report, HFZ stopped paying contractors working on the XI in late 2019; whenever lenders asked where their money was, Meir seemed to have an excuse. In one desperate move, alleged in a subsequent lawsuit filed by Feldman, Meir invented a Korean investor and doubled down by enlisting someone to fake a Korean accent during a conference call.

By 2022, HFZ had been gutted by foreclosures and lawsuits. Feldman, who claimed that he put too much faith in Meir to run the day-to-day business, fired Meir and sued him for $688 million in damages.

Feldman and his wife, Helene, who also worked at HFZ, had no comment on Meir’s arrest. “With Nir at the helm, we were doomed from the beginning,” Feldman told me in 2022, blaming Meir for his firm’s collapse. Feldman claimed his biggest mistake was relying on “a person who turned out to be a very talented sociopath.”

After being fired at HFZ, Meir decamped to Miami Beach, where he lived out of luxury hotels and, for a time, a $150,000-a-month rental. Last week, in bankruptcy court, first reported by the Real Deal, Meir said he had $30 million in liabilities and just $50 to his name. He is also in the middle of a contentious divorce from his wife, Bartolacci, who claimed to be unaware of her husband’s debts.

Nir Meir Has Been Arrested