George Smith Partners’ David Rifkind Dies

Co-founder and mentor to the firm’s younger members, Rifkind was successful in his career as an investor, broker and lender.

Los Angeles—David Rifkind, co-founding principal of Los Angeles-based investment bank George Smith Partners, passed away on Monday, Jan. 23, at age 51. He succumbed to a rare, rapidly degenerative and incurable neurological disease, according to a George Smith Partners spokesperson.

David Rifkind
David Rifkind

Rifkind grew up in Encino, where he attended elementary school, Portola Junior High and Birmingham High School. He graduated from USC in 1987 with bachelor’s degree in history and international relations.

As a treasured community leader, Rifkind served as chair of the board of Jews for Judaism, a board member of the Ziegler School at AJU and Ilan Ramon Day School. He was also active in the Real Estate Cabinet of the Jewish Federation and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), among numerous other organizations.

Rifkind got his start in the business very early, buying his first building at the age of 22. He went on to own and manage multiple properties. In 1992, Rifkind and four other real estate professionals launched George Smith Partners. Since its inception, the company has arranged more than $45 billion in financing for numerous properties across the U.S.

Rifkind was also the go-to person for real estate journalists and offered insights whenever he was asked to comment on major events that had an impact on the industry. Speaking to a reporter for a Commercial Property Executive article on the importance of philanthropy and how his team members are expected to be leaders in community service and charity, he once said: “Success in philanthropy is directly related to success in leadership in business. It’s kind of a ‘duh’ that the two of them are so closely related.”  And when talking about corporate leadership and the dedication to philanthropy—both setting the example at George Smith Partners—he made it clear that the energy that drives community service comes from the ground up, rather than from the top down. “We don’t dictate how you do it,” said Rifkind. “We just care that you’re passionate about social activism and you do something about it … it’s an absolute expectation.”

Most recently, he talked to Commercial Property Executive about the Brexit impact on commercial real estate and shed light on the results of the 2016 presidential election and their possible effects on the capital markets, regulations and foreign investment.