Chicago private equity veteran Bryan Cressey and his wife, plastic surgeon Iliana Sweis, have been identified as the buyers who paid $20 million in March for the five-bedroom, 14,260-square-foot, full-floor penthouse on the 89th floor of the Chicago Trump. Hotel & International Tower.
The unit sale was the third highest priced sale on record of any type of home within the Chicago city limits. A real estate source at Trump Tower confirmed that Cressey and Sweis were the buyers.
Cressey, 73, is a co-founder of private equity firm Golder Thoma Cressey, which partnered with future Governor Bruce Rauner to become GTCR. Cressey then co-founded another private equity firm, Thoma Cressey, followed by Cressey & Co.
Cressey and Sweis are familiar with the Trump Building, as Sweis purchased a unit on the bottom floor of the building for $2.7 million in 2009. And Cressey, a longtime Barrington-area resident, purchased one of the hotel’s condos in the building in 2015 for $1.68 million.
The couple purchased the $20 million penthouse through an obscure Delaware limited liability company whose name is a variation of the couple’s wedding date and location.
Chezi Rafaeli, the real estate agent who represented the couple in their purchase, declined to confirm the couple’s ownership. Attorney Judy DeAngelis, who represented the couple in the purchase and who also receives the tax bill for the unit, asked a reporter “where did they get those names” before declining to comment further.
Cressey did not respond to a request for comment, while in a phone interview, Sweis denied buying the unit.
Sanjay Shah, CEO of Hoffman Estates-based software maker Vistex, paid $17 million in 2004 for the 12-bedroom penthouse, which he never occupied. After putting up some walls and ceilings, he listed it in September 2021 for $30 million, and signed a contract to sell it in February.
The penthouse has 7-1/2 baths, floor-to-ceiling windows, a 19-foot ceiling in the living room, 18-foot insulated glass windows, and a private access elevator.
In August, Chicago building officials approved Cressey and Sweis’ request to demolish the existing walls and ceilings in the penthouse at a cost of $125,000.
The penthouse had a property tax bill of $257,391 in fiscal year 2020.
As far as Chicago home buying records go, the Cressey and Sweis purchase only follows billionaire Ken Griffin’s $58.75 million 2017 purchase of four condominiums in the building at 9 W. Walton Street and the recent $20.56 million sale of a four-bedroom, 10,000-square-foot duplex condominium on the 71st floor of the Residences at the St. Regis Tower. The Griffin purchase was technically made in four separate transactions, and only one of the four recorded sales was for more than $20 million. No single-family home in Chicago history has changed hands for more than the $14.5 million that the now-governor has. JB Pritzker paid for his mansion on Astor Street in 2006.
Goldsborough is a freelance reporter.
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