Article By: Daniel Jones
Three years ago I met Ben Mallah. He’s a local real estate tycoon known for romping around Tampa/St. Pete in his Rolls-Royce Phantoms and owning a large amount of commercial and residential real estate. Long story short, a mutual friend of ours suggested I pitch Ben a marketing campaign for all of his hotels and restaurants in Tampa. So, I did.
To someone who has never met Ben, his image and presence can be extremely intimidating. Standing at 6-foot 3-inches, weighing around 400 lbs and having a net worth of $200 million, you can imagine how nerve racking it would be to pitch him a $500,000 marketing campaign. After 30 minutes of negotiating and enduring verbal abuse from Ben and his colleagues about how I couldn’t possibly make them a return-on-investment, he hired me.
I’ve learned a lot about Ben and his business after the first year of being around it all. The first misconception was thinking he was a big bully with a huge ego. He is, in fact, the complete opposite. One of the most interesting characteristics of Ben is his ability to level and find common ground with anyone, and this is how he got to where he is today.
Ben was born and raised in the projects of Rockaway Queens, New York. It was there where he learned to hustle and get ahead in life, and he brings this same mentality to his business today. He started by buying a run-down house worth $27,500 with the money he got from selling a couple cars, and flipped the house for $100,000 ($72,500 profit). Now, 25 years later, he’s doing the same thing but with large hotels, apartment buildings and shopping centers. Currently, he’s sitting on $200 million worth of real estate and has more than 500 employees running it all. However, he never stopped hustling cars either, with his latest purchase being the 1989 – 1992 era Batmobile. This is the very Batmobile that appeared in “Batman Returns,” starring Michael Keaton. He bought it for $225,000 and sold it for $315,000 to comedian Jeff Dunham.
Adding to his list of cars is the 1948 “Bob Hope Special” worth $350,000, four Rolls-Royce Phantoms, a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S and a Bentley Continental GT.
Despite the fact that he fought hard to make it from rags to riches, Ben makes spending time with his family a priority. Money, power and respect all mean nothing if you are unable to enjoy them with the ones you love. He spends most weekends flying his family and employees around Florida and the Caribbean, renting waterfront mansions and 100-foot yachts for them to enjoy.
For me, just being a fly on the wall through all the day-to-day chaos of his investment business, it was intriguing to see the way this man operated, ran his business and dealt with people, so we decided to document it all and put it on the internet. We filmed everything, from Ben negotiating $10 million dollar deals in a parking lot, to his expensive yacht parties in Miami. As great as this all may seem, it could all come crashing down without any notice. This could come from a bad day on the stock market, a property not being what they thought or not finding a new property to invest his profits. The IRS would be all over him, picking at the bones until there was nothing left. That’s why he’s always looking for the next deal and figuring out how to maximize his profits.
Ben Mallah does what he does for his family. He once told me, “I am not afraid to die. I am afraid of what my death would do to my family.” No matter the stakes or the consequences, Ben puts it all on the line every day for his family. He wants them to have the security and opportunity he never had as a kid. He wants to provide a reality most only dream of.