Lurie was born to a Jewish family in San Francisco. In 1972, he took over the real estate company founded in 1922 by his father, Louis Lurie, whose name is synonymous with San Francisco real estate development during the middle part of the 20th century. The company built a number of properties along Montgomery Street over the years, including a building Bank of America bought and tore down for its world headquarters at 555 California St., and it still owns many of them. Other notable local properties owned by Lurie are the Mark Hopkins Hotel and the Curran Theatre.
Lurie's real estate company has also upgraded some older properties in San Francisco. For example, Lurie invested $20 million in 901 Market St. and brought in retailers Copeland's Sports and Marshalls, transforming the 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) mid-Market Street eyesore into a winner.
In 1975, Giants owner Horace Stoneham agreed in principle to sell the team to a group headed by the Labatt Brewing Company, which intended to move the team to Toronto. Mayor George Moscone won an injunction to stop the sale, and then persuaded Lurie, a Giants minority owner and board member, to put together a group that would buy the team and keep it in San Francisco. In February 1976, Lurie announced he was putting together a bid to buy the Giants for $8 million. Although Toronto was awarded its own expansion team, the Blue Jays, in 1977, it would not be the last time that San Francisco's baseball fans would fear the possibility of losing their team.
The 1970s was a generally disappointing decade for the Giants and the trend continued throughout Lurie’s ownership. In 1985, a year which saw the Giants lose 100 games (the most in franchise history), Lurie responded by hiring Al Rosen as general manager. Under Rosen's tenure, the Giants promoted promising rookies such as Will Clark and Robby Thompson, and made canny trades to acquire such players as Kevin Mitchell, Dave Dravecky, Candy Maldonado, and Rick Reuschel. The Giants would not have a better influx of young position players since that period until the mid-2000s.
Meanwhile, in both 1987 and 1989, San Francisco voters rejected two stadium referenda to replace the notoriously unaccommodating Candlestick Park as the home of the Giants, despite the franchise's offer to pick up most of the tab for a new downtown park. Worse still, a plan to improve the existing stadium failed by an even wider margin. Frustrated, Lurie looked south toward Silicon Valley, only to see San Jose and Santa Clara voters reject three more proposals to build a Giants ballpark.
Finally, in October 1992, Lurie announced that he would sell the Giants, claiming that he could no longer sustain the financial losses (averaging about $2–7 million annually) that had accumulated over the last few years. During his announcement, Lurie appeared visibly emotional, his voice breaking as he explained his hopes for turning the business side around when he bought the team in 1976. Nonetheless, losing teams and poor weather conditions at Candlestick Park kept many fans away, and at the time of Lurie's announcement, the team had finished with a 72-90 record.
Originally, Lurie had agreed to sell the Giants for $115 million to an ownership group headed by Vince Naimoli (original owner of the Tampa Bay Rays) with plans to move the club to St. Petersburg, Florida. However, the National League nixed the deal, pressuring Lurie to sell the club to Bay Area investors. In an 11th hour effort to save the team from moving, a group of local investors headed by ex-Safeway magnate, Peter Magowan, offered Lurie $100 million for the Giants.
Since selling the Giants, Lurie has focused his efforts on his real estate firm, the Lurie Co., buying and selling properties and branching out beyond its core office holdings totalling over 4,000,000 square feet (370,000 m2), not including two hotels, a theater and a parking facility it owns. He is also involved in various philanthropic activities, which include the $20 million Louis R. Lurie Foundation. Lurie is an adviser of the Alternative Golf Association (known as "Flogton").In June 2001, the San Francisco Zoo proudly opened its new 11,000-square-foot (1,000 m2) Connie and Bob Lurie Education Center.
Bob Lurie was once asked about the proverbial 'complete player'. "A complete player today," Lurie remarked, "is one who can hit, field, run, throw - and pick the right agent." [Source: Glenn Liebman, Grand Slams! : The Ultimate Collection of Baseball's Best Quips, Quotes, and Cutting Remarks]
Both owners of the World Series teams in 1989 belonged to the Jewish synagogue Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, Bob Lurie was one; Walter A. Haas, Jr., owner of the Oakland Athletics was the other.
Through the Louis R. Lurie Foundation, a philanthropic fund established by his father, Lurie has made a significant number of charitable contributions to many non-profits in San Francisco, the greater Bay Area, and Chicago.