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Selling Stars

The 21 who’ll take—and market—Manhattan.


Sharon E. Baum
The Corcoran Group
2002 sales: More than $100 million.
Biggest deal: The former Lycée Français townhouses, for a bit more than $50 million (jointly with Carrie Chiang).
The details: Baum, a Harvard M.B.A., was the first female vice-president at Chemical Bank. Today, the 63-year-old Missouri native (“and I really did raise Angus cattle”) deals in high-end properties on Central Park West, and apartments on Park and Fifth Avenues for New York aristocrats. Ferries clients in a midnight-blue Rolls-Royce with SOLD 1 license plate. Is near closing on Lily Safra’s place at 820 Fifth Avenue—perhaps the best building in town—for about $24.5 million.

Brucie Boalt
Sotheby’s International Realty
2002 sales: She’s not talking, and neither is anyone else.
The details: Old-school; deals with European wealth. Just sold the late Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli’s apartment to real-estate developer Steve Roth for about $20 million (a deal she made with Serena Boardman). Also sold Stavros Niarchos’s apartment at 820 Fifth Avenue for about $15 million.

Robby Browne
The Corcoran Group
2002 sales: More than $140 million.
Biggest deal: Last month, about $45 million for 8,000 square feet at AOL Time Warner Center—the most expensive New York apartment ever.
The details: Browne, who works with partners Maria Pashby and Chris Kannon, calls himself a “Central Park West specialist,” and recently closed a twelve-room co-op at the San Remo for about $10 million. Also does downtown: Has Bob Vila’s 5,000-square-foot loft at 90 Franklin Street on the market for $4 million. Was Broker of the Year at Elliman for nine years before jumping to Corcoran. Won two gold medals in diving at the 1990 and ’94 Gay Games. Commutes on a battered ten-speed bike, though in the Hamptons he upgrades to a 1955 Chrysler convertible. Came to Barbara Corcoran’s book party this year dressed as a nun.

Patricia Burnham
P.S. Burnham
2002 sales: “My sales are the same every year—every person I know has to live somewhere. I move America.”
Biggest deal: The biggest she’ll admit to: Bill Cosby’s East 71st Street house, sold to duty-free tycoon Robert Miller for $12 million in 1988.
The details: Keeps her office so small that she won’t divulge the number of employees, but brokers say she’s a one-woman show. “I like to be on top of every deal. I’m accessible to every client,” she says. Known for hosting swank cocktail parties at Daniel for friends like Dominick Dunne and Mark Green to drum up clients. Ferries clients around in a big black Mercedes. Lives on Park Avenue. Works out “like a madwoman” at Equinox.

Edward Lee Cave
2002 sales: “Not talking is part of his shtick,” says a competitor, who estimates Cave’s sales last year at $30 million. “A few years ago, he was probably doing $70 or $80 million.”
The details: Cave helped start the residential-real-estate arm of Sotheby’s and then left to found his own boutique firm. “He was the doyen of the high end,” one colleague says. “He knows all the right people.” Last big deal was three years ago, when his right-hand woman, Kathy Steinberg, sold ex–in-law Saul Steinberg’s triplex penthouse at 740 Park Avenue for a record $34 million. Now he’s more likely to be spotted lunching at Doubles than pitching exclusives, though a rival admits, “Edward’s still the first call a certain type of customer will make.”

Roger Erickson
William B. May
2002 sales: $64 million—"a relatively slow year. I think I’m going to top $100 million this year, which is what I shoot for.”
Biggest deal: Peter Guber’s full-floor apartment at 944 Fifth, sold to a Goldman Sachs partner for about $14 million in 1999—then a record-breaking deal.
The details: About to close on Steve Jobs’s duplex penthouse in the San Remo for slightly less than the ask price of $14.9 million; Bono is buying. Also made what was then the largest-ever Hamptons deal, $10 million for the Gwathmey Siegel–designed Toad Hall. Brags that he’s had only one co-op-board turndown in twenty years. Lives in a Trump building on the West Side. Used to produce videos for the Jacksons and Julio Iglesias; his very first sale was an East 18th Street townhouse to Wynton Marsalis. Drives a Ferrari, wears a lot of black leather. Married to his Russian former dance instructor. Used to hang out with Andy Warhol, and sold Andy’s townhouse to MTV’s Tom Freston.

Carrie Chiang
The Corcoran Group
2002 sales: $156 million.
Biggest deal: That $50 million Lycée Français deal with Sharon E. Baum.
The details: Was born in Shanghai, was raised in Hong Kong, and lived in Brazil before moving here with her husband and three kids. Known for East Side townhouses and especially condos, but also shows properties in Tribeca and Soho (with five assistants and a personal driver). Recent sales include P. Diddy’s $12 million house at 813 Park. Lives in Trump Palace; is a fanatically competitive ballroom dancer. Celebrity clients include Barbra Streisand and various members of the Johnson & Johnson family.

Barbara Fox
Fox Residential Group
2002 sales: About $50 million.
Biggest deal: A $10 million, four-bedroom Fifth Avenue co-op a few years ago. “I don’t do the $35 million deals.”
The details: Fox’s boutique firm, founded in 1989 with four brokers, now employs 40. She’s sold to Walter and Betsy Cronkite and Robert Redford. The North Carolina native, who retains her twang, founded WOOF!, a dog-rescue organization, in honor of her “children,” dog Lucy and cat Winky, who share an Upper West Side townhouse with Fox and her husband, a retired Skadden, Arps partner.

Leslie and Jed Garfield
Leslie J. Garfield & Co.
2002 sales: $58 million.
Biggest deal: The Vanderbilt Fabbri mansion on East 62nd Street, sold to the Japanese government for $21.5 million in 2000.
The details: This low-key father-and-son team deals in high-end properties, especially Upper East Side townhouses, with a strong Wall Street client list. The late Ted Ammon was a client. “I’m not a big schmoozer,” says Jed, “not one of those Hamptons types.” The son is on the board of the New York Youth Symphony, and Leslie’s on the board of MoMA. They win the Messrs. Congeniality prize from their fellow brokers—no small feat.

Deborah Grubman
The Corcoran Group
2002 sales: Won’t say, but an in-the-know source estimates $100 million.
Biggest deal: Tommy Mottola’s East 64th Street house for about $20 million.
The details: Lizzie’s stepmom recently jumped from Alice Mason, though Corcoran insists she didn’t get the rumored $1 million signing bonus. Does a ton of celebrity business, which is hardly surprising given her family connections. Couldn’t sell Edgar Bronfman Jr.’s 15,000-square-foot East 64th Street townhouse (between Fifth and Madison) last year—no takers at $40 million—but did just get the exclusive for the late Tony Fischer’s $13 million 73rd Street townhouse.

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