Michael Rakosi has often described himself as a “Renaissance man light.” He is a passionate art collector, ardent movie and television fan, real estate maven, avid reader, entrepreneur, teacher, sports enthusiast, basketball card collector, boxing manager, actor, stand up comic, talk show producer, promoter of the benefits of frequent naps, good friend to many, and a real New Yorker. In a City that offers the opportunity to do it all, he has, and will be the first to tell you that you can, too. In fact, Rakosi will tell you a lot of things, just try and stop him.
As a real estate developer, builder and owner, for more than forty years, Michael Rakosi has helped to shape the City that he loves and reaped rewards and awards in the process. Of particular significance are the changes he has helped to create on Manhattan’s lower east side. Michael bought unsafe, unsightly, unsalable properties and turned them into affordable co-op housing, giving New Yorkers services they need. He brought the first bank into the neighborhood. He also owns or has owned a number of movie theaters in the Metropolitan area, and owned the legendary Fillmore East. In 2003, when HOWL the downtown arts festival was created, Michael Rakosi was a founding sponsor.
Mike Rakosi knows how to give back. He is vice-president of the board of trustees of his alma mater, the Garden School, a superb ninety year old educational institution in Jackson Heights, N.Y. Through his long service he helps to assure that other young New Yorkers will reap the school’s benefits.
Dubbed, “the Slam Dunk Champ of Hoop Card Collecting” by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) Mike Rakosi’s vintage basketball card sets are “second to none.” His interest in boxing led him to manage the careers of a number of prize fighters as well as put together the famous Sugar Ray Leonard-Donny LaLonde Super Bout in 1988. He challenged Don King’s stranglehold on the sport when he took heavyweight Eddie Gregg out of obscurity and into a top ten ranking.
Michael Rakosi’s combination of warmth and wit, qualities that have made him a popular negotiator, were in full force when he guest lectured at places like The New School, NYU, St. John’s and Pace University where he injected more than a touch of reality and humor to lessons in real estate transactions.
Forever ready for his close-up, as an actor, he has worked on two episodes of “The Cosby Show” as well as “The Equalizer.” He appeared in the movies “Rooftops” and Phil Berger’s “Price of Glory,” was featured in the first national ads for “Cirque du Soleil” and for a number of years lent his face and voice to Mercedes-Benz commercials that were aired during the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards.
In the early 1980’s, Michael was named one of the most important young art collectors in America by Art and Antiques magazine. He has been an avid collector of Art for over 30 years, with paintings by Davis Cone and John Baeder, among others, in his collection. Michael has shared his collection endlessly to museum and galleries for exhibitions because he believes that while the paintings are in his possession for only a short time, they will always belong to the artists. Says Mike Rakosi, “My paintings and sculptures have been in far better places than I have.”
Til recently, Michael managed to keep his urge to be the spotlight somewhat in check, satisfying himself with toasting and roasting his friends who include some of this City’s most influential movers and shakers. In 2005, he began a long-delayed career as a stand-up comedian. Since then, he has appeared hundreds of times at the Comic Strip Live and Stand Up NY in Manhattan and has taken his act to L.A., Chicago, Denver, Cleveland, New Jersey, Connecticut and, according to Michael, “any place that can stand it.”
“That Show With Michael Rakosi”, the new web series, in which men talk candidly and openly, “no sports, no politics, just talk” is the latest project in his extraordinary career.