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Mystery Backer of Top MTA Bid May Be Tishman Realty Empire

By Peter R. Kann and Bruce L. Paisner

The Tishman financial and realty empire is apparently the mystery backer behind Samuel P. Coffman's $7.6 million bid for the Bennett St. MTA Yards, the CRIMSON learned yesterday.

Two leading members of the Tishman complex, Paul '21 and Norman '22 are Harvard graduates. Reached in New York City last night, Paul Tishman said, "I have no knowledge of it whatsoever." However, the mystery backer has been making every effort to protect his anonymity until after the Yards have been sold.

Tishman financial interests have reportedly offered to develop buildings for Harvard in the past three years, but their offers have been rejected because of "strings attached."

The Tishmans have developed buildings at Sarah Lawrence, Queens College, and other institutions in the New York-New England area, and very likely have become at least temporarily disenchanted with Harvard.

During the past week, the CRIMSON learned that the mystery backer is a nationally prominent, multi-millionaire New York City developer and real estate speculator, who is a Harvard alumnus.

It was discovered yesterday that Coffman's backer has been very active in Caribbean real estate development, particularly in Puerto Rico, St. Johns, and the West Indies.

Newspaper sources in New York City confirmed yesterday that the Tishmans are the only nationally prominent New York City developers with Harvard affiliation who are currently active in Caribbean real estate.

Coffman claimed last week that his development plans for the MTA Yards would approach $100 million. The Tishman empire is believed to be worth several hundred million dollars.

The backer reportedly refused to allow himself to be identified because he did not want the fact that he is bidding against Harvard to become public knowledge. "Obviously no one wants to be identified as opposing Harvard University," Coffman said last week. Coffman refuses to identify his backer even to MTA officials.

Harvard's bid of $5,010,000 still stands. The MTA is not required to accept the highest offer, and MTA officials have declared that their choice "will be in the best interests of Cambridge."

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