Eugene Bernshtam is a native of Cape Canaveral, FL, where his parents worked as consultants at the NASA Launch Operations Center. Ever since he was young, he shared his parents’ love for finding out how things work and how they are put together.
While he was allowed to drive a car during his college days at the University of Miami, he never really owned a car until he graduated. He earned his finance degree in 1989 and started working as an investment banker straight out of college, where he was hired by a firm based in Chicago. He steadily made his way up the ranks of the bank before deciding to strike it out on his own in another field: real estate and building construction.
Even without a degree in either architecture or engineering, Bernshtam was a keen student of the profession, visiting the Chicago Public Library daily to read up on the latest trends in construction and to build a foundation in the basics of real estate management. His firm, Avalon LLC, was founded in 1999, and was involved in the construction of some modern Chicago landmarks. After the mortgage crisis of 2006-07, Avalon LLC won a contract to renovate the headquarters of an insurance company, and by 2012, he was finally able to devote part of his time to his numerous hobbies and causes. Bernshtam still holds Series 7 and 63 certifications to sell investment securities despite his career shift.
As a classic car collector, his collection has won prizes in several automotive concourses. He is particularly proud of his 1970 Bentley T1 and 1975 Chrysler Cordoba, the latter of which is the latest addition to his collection. His love for cars also extends to continental Europe, as he is a member of the Ferrari Club of America and the Lamborghini Club.
Aside from collecting classic cars, he helps others in restoring their own. His last project, a 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, was done free of charge. The car made the rounds of the automotive concourse circuit in 2011, raising funds for Chicago aldermen. He is supportive of the current set-up of the city council, noting that it promotes diversity and reflects the ethnic make-up of Chicago’s population.
Eugene Bernshtam spends summers in Chicago and winters in his hometown of Cape Canaveral, FL. He drives one of his classic cars on his cross-country trips whenever road and weather conditions permit, and swears by the durability and longevity of classic platforms. On his last trip, a drive from Cape Canaveral up to Chicago, he used his Chrysler Cordoba and got 12.5 miles to the gallon.
Bernshtam is also a Chicago Bulls season ticket holder; he has had season passes since the tail-end of the second three-peat. He feels that the 2016-17 season, with Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, and Rajon Rondo on board, is going to make a deep run in the playoffs. Aside from supporting the Bulls, he travels frequently, and lists southern France as his favorite vacation destination.