Born in Poland, he left Israel for the United States as a young man, and made a fortune in open-air parking garages and later diversified into residential developments and hotels. In 1993, he bought the New York Post when it was about to be foreclosed; and the Post employees made their feelings known immediately. The next day's front page showed a huge picture of Alexander Hamilton (the paper's founder) with a tear running down his face. Hirschfeld later sold the paper to Rupert Murdoch.
Hirschfeld was also a serial political loser, never coming close to winning campaigns for lieutenant governor, Congress or Manhattan borough president. In 1998 he offered Paula Jones $1,000,000 to drop her sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill Clinton. Convicted in 2001 of conspiracy in the attempted murder of a longtime business associate - Hirschfeld offered $75,000 to a hitman - he served almost two years. Undaunted when he got out, he campaigned for the U.S. Senate, calling himself "Honest Abe."