Sam Zell, a Chicago real estate magnate who earned a multibillion-dollar fortune and a reputation as “the grave dancer” for his ability to revive moribund properties has died due to complications from a recent illness. He was 81. Bearded and blunt-spoken, Zell reveled in bucking traditional wisdom. He had a golden touch with real estate, and got his start managing apartment buildings as a college student. By the time he reached his 70s, he had amassed a fortune estimated at $3.8 billion.