New York real estate mogul Douglas Durst, whose older brother Robert Durst is facing murder charges in Los Angeles, revealed in an interview published today that he feared his brother, whose sometimes charming façade hid a violent streak.
“I was always amazed that he had friends, because from what I saw, I didn’t see how anyone would see him as someone they wanted to be friendly with,” Douglas, 70, Durst told New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer. “Obviously, he is someone able to assume various identities as it pleases him.”
The Dursts are one of New York City’s largest real estate dynasties, and rank among America’s richest families. Through the Durst Organization, they control what Forbes estimated last year was $4.4 billion of property in Manhattan, including iconic skyscrapers, One Bryant Park (The Bank of America tower), Four Times Square, and a 10 percent stake of One World Trade Center.
Robert Durst, 71, who was estranged from the family, was arrested in New Orleans on Saturday on charges that he murdered friend and confidante Susan Berman back in 2000 in Los Angeles. That’s just one crime he has been linked to over the years. His arrest came the day before the final episode of HBO documentary “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” aired, in which he appeared to confess to the three deaths he had been linked to in an off-camera recording that took place after he excused himself to go to the lavatory and apparently didn’t realize he still wore a microphone.
“There it is. You’re caught,” the recording said. “You’re right, of course. But you can’t imagine. Arrest him. What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
In addition to Berman, he has been investigated in connection with the disappearance of his ex-wife, and he was tried but not convicted in the slaying of Morris Black in Texas. The jury found that Durst killed Black, a neighbor, in self-defense and then dismembered him in a mentally troubled state.
Douglas Durst told the Times his brother could be charming to outsiders and clients but would act “bizarre” during internal family business meetings. He was also afraid of him. Douglas kept a piece of pipe in his office to protect himself because Robert would leave a sharp-pointed plumber’s wrench on his desk, he said. Robert Durst also filled his brother’s trashcan with urine while in the office after hours. When he did the same to an uncle, the family decided that Douglas rather than Robert would take over the business.
In a separate interview with Dwyer published earlier this year, Douglas Durst said his brother was a psychopath who had, in the past, come to his home with guns. “There’s no doubt in my mind that if he had the opportunity to kill me, he would,” he said.