In 2008, Zuckerman was the 147th wealthiest American, and in 2007, he was the 188th as per Forbes. In 2006, he was ranked 382. The increase was related to the sale in 2007 of 5 Times Square and 280 Park Avenue in New York, which together realized US$2.5 billion for his company, Boston Properties, Inc.
He has been the publisher/owner of the New York Daily News since 1993 and, as of 2007, is the current Editor-in-Chief of U.S. News & World Report. He co-founded Boston Properties, Inc. in 1970. He is chairman of the board, and director.
Zuckerman was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He entered McGill University at the age of sixteen. He graduated from McGill with a B.A. in 1957 and an LL.B. in 1961, although he never took a bar exam. That same year, Zuckerman entered University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, where he earned an M.B.A. and distinction of honor. He received an LL.M. from Harvard University in 1962.
After graduating, Zuckerman remained at Harvard Business School as an associate professor for nine years. He also taught at Yale University. He spent seven years at the real estate firm Cabot, Cabot & Forbes, where he rose to the position of Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
In 1980, he purchased the literary magazine The Atlantic Monthly, where he was Chairman from 1980 to 1999. In 1999 he sold the magazine to David G. Bradley for US$12 million. Commenting on this sale and that of Fast Company magazine, which he sold for $365 million at the height of the tech boom in 2000, he quipped, "I averaged out."
In addition to his publishing and real-estate interests, Zuckerman is also a frequent commentator on world affairs, both as an editorialist and on television. He regularly appears on MSNBC and The McLaughlin Group, and writes columns for U.S. News & World Report and the New York Daily News.
Since the late 1970s, Zuckerman has donated more than $68,000 to American political candidates, with $42,700 going to Democratic politicians and $24,000 to independent interests.
On 19 December 2008, Zuckerman's second daughter, Renée Esther, was born; the mother was not identified. The child's birth was announced in the Gatecrasher column of the Daily News on 23 December 2008.
He keeps homes in New York, New York, East Hampton, New York and Aspen, Colorado. He also keeps a 166 foot Oceanco Yacht, the Lazy Z. For transportation, he previously owned a Falcon 900 corporate jet, but has recently purchased a Gulfstream G550.
Zuckerman is also an active supporter of Israeli and international Jewish causes. Between 2001 and 2003, Zuckerman was the chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Typically, the nominating committee attempts to choose a person who is both respected and uncontroversial. However, Zuckerman was widely opposed by liberal Jewish factions. Nonetheless, Zuckerman was eventually elected and served a full term.
In their 2006 paper The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, John Mearsheimer, political science professor at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, academic dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, named Zuckerman as a member of the media wing of the "Israeli lobby" in the United States. Zuckerman replied: "I would just say this: The allegations of this disproportionate influence of the Jewish community reminds me of the 92-year-old man sued in a paternity suit. He said he was so proud, he pleaded guilty."
Zuckerman serves on the Board of Trustees of several educational and private institutions such as New York University, the Aspen Institute, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Hole in the Wall Gang Fund and the Center for Communications. He is a member of the JPMorgan's National Advisory Board, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He worked as a president of the Board of Trustees of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Zuckerman is known to be a mentor to and close associate of Daniel M. Snyder, owner of the NFL football team Washington Redskins. He has been a financial backer to Snyder's business ventures (CampusUSA magazine), and was a shareholder and director in Snyder Communications Inc., a marketing services business which was taken over in 2000 (by Havas Advertising).
Zuckerman is one of the investors defrauded in a "Ponzi Scheme," by way of investments with Fifth Avenue Synagogue president J. Ezra Merkin who staked roughly 10% ($30 million) of Zuckerman's charitable trust fund with convicted scammer Bernard Madoff. Zuckerman has stated that all current charitable obligations will still be honored with no changes. At a forum at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York, Zuckerman remarked that no one since Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, executed in 1953 for giving atomic secrets to the Soviet Union, "has so damaged the image and self respect of American Jews."
On April 6, 2009, Zuckerman, chairman of Boston Properties Inc. and publisher of the New York Daily News, filed a lawsuit against J. Ezra Merkin and his Gabriel Capital LP. The lawsuit claims fraud and negligent representation and seeks unspecified punitive damages. Merkin had a “huge incentive not to disclose Madoff’s role, especially to investors like Zuckerman,” because he charged clients “substantial fees” to manage both his Ascot Partners LP and Gabriel Capital. The lawsuit claims over $40 million in losses for placing his assets with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC without his knowledge. Zuckerman invested $25 million with Merkin’s Ascot Fund in 2006 through his Charitable Remainder Trust, or CRT Investments Limited, and personally invested $15 million with Merkin’s Gabriel Capital. Merkin charged Zuckerman a 1.5% fee and imposed significant “lock-up restrictions on redemptions,", but his agreement with Gabriel Capital contains an arbitration clause against Merkin for his lost personal $15 million investment. The lawsuit also named the accounting firm BDO Seidman LLP, and a related entity called BDO Tortuga, as defendants.