High-powered New York City real estate developer Aby Rosen has sent his business partner Jared Kushner a pretty rude message. A new billboard at a construction site Rosen owns at 337 Lafayette Street in Manhattan exhorts passersby, in huge white letters, to “Vote Your CONSCIENCE!” On Monday, Rosen posted a photograph of the billboard to Instagram with the caption, “Wake up America.”
The idea of “voting one’s conscience” was a central tenet of the short-lived Never Trump movement that strove to usurp Kushner’s father-in-law before he was formally nominated in Cleveland. And like Kushner, though he may have embraced a certain strain of Republican rhetoric as a matter of political convenience. Rosen does not himself appear to be a Republican.
Filings with the Federal Election Commission show that Rosen has contributed to a number of Democratic candidates and committees over the years—including Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate bid. In September, Rosen gave $500 to Congressman Hakeem Jeffries’ re-election campaign, and in 2014 he gave $10,000 the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee and $17,600 to Cory Booker’s joint fundraising committee.
The pair partnered in 2014 to buy an office complex in Dumbo from the Jehovah’s Witnesses for a whopping $375 million, alongside Asher Abehsera’s LIVWRK and Invesco, and they continue to work together to rehab the complex and ink deals with new creative and tech tenants such as WeWork and Easy.
Notably, Rosen was slated to partner again with Kushner on his more recent purchase of the nearby Witnesses’ Watchtower building at 25-30 Columbia Heights for $340 million but backed out before the deal closed. California-based private equity giant CIM took his place. It wasn’t clear if his anti-Trump sentiment had anything to do with his decision not to take part in the transaction.
RFR Holding, Rosen’s development firm, did not return Gawker’s request for comment. The company’s logo is displayed prominently next to the billboard at 337 Lafayette Street—just a block north of the Puck Building, Kushner’s flagship property.
Rosen is a ruthlessly efficient capitalist, gutting some of New York City’s most prized landmarks without sentiment or concern: He is responsible for sterilizing the mysterious graffiti haven 190 Bowery, which he acquired for $55 million; evicting both the Four Seasons and a Picasso from the Seagrams Building, which he acquired for $375 million; and razing the so-called Peace Pentagon (at the current site of the “Vote Your Conscience” billboard), which he acquired for just under $21 million.
For decades, the Peace Pentagon housed activist groups like the War Resisters League, the Granny Peace Brigade, and the Socialist Party USA. The building has been razed. Rosen’s intent for the property aren’t yet clear, although the Landmarks Commission recently recently approved his plan to convert a historic battered women’s shelter across the street at 348 Lafayette to luxury retail.
Rosen also recently agreed to pay $7 million in unpaid taxes on his art collection. But yeah, sure—vote your conscience.