Temur Sepiashvili was born to a Jewish family in Tbilisi. His Father was a major in the Soviet Army. In the early 1970s he studied journalism at Tbilisi State University but left to earn money to support his family because of his father's death.
He took a job processing emigration applications for Soviet Jews and in 1973, he immigrated to Israel with his wife around the time of the Yom Kippur War. He changed his last name to Sapir while in Israel and moved to the United States first to Louisville, Kentucky where he learned English and worked as a bus driver, janitor and a loader; and then to New York City where he worked as a taxicab driver. He then opened an electronics store with fellow immigrant Sam Kislin catering primarily to Russian clientele.
Sapir made contacts with the Soviet contingent to the United Nations in New York, and started trading electronics, clothing, and footwear for Soviet oil and oil products which he then sold to American companies. Investing the profits in Manhattan real estate in the 1990s, which was then in a slump, he became a Billionaire by 2002. Sapir has been referred to as America's "billionaire cabbie".
Sapir brought a lawsuit in Russia against a Moscow oil refinery after it violated the terms of a contract by failing to transfer oil products for delivered equipment. Sapir won the case in 2005, but received none of the $28 million the Moscow company was ordered to pay.
Sapir was married twice. His first marriage to Bella Sapir ended in divorce. He has five children: Alex Sapir (born 1980), Zina Sapir Rosen (born 1985), Ruth, Zita, Eli. His second wife was Elena Ponomareva. He was a member of the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan. He built the Congregation of Georgian Jews synagogue in Rego Park, Queens. He died on September 26, 2014, aged 67.