The Real Deal New York

Jilted Nest Seekers broker launches own firm, continues lawsuit

Joseph DeCristofaro was hired at Southampton office, but claims former employer locked him out
By Leigh Kamping-Carder | January 30, 2012 06:00PM

Noted Hamptons agent Joseph DeCristofaro, who abruptly left Nest Seekers International in November and then sued the firm, has launched his own residential brokerage that will focus on rentals and sales in New York and the Hamptons.

Named the Global Group, as reported by the New York Post earlier this month, the firm launched Dec. 21 and will cater to buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords. DeCristofaro also started, a separate Hamptons rental listings website.

This is the latest venture for DeCristofaro, who joined Nest Seekers as an executive vice president last May to help run the firm’s newly acquired Southampton office. Nest Seekers poached DeCristofaro from the Corcoran Group, where he was named East End rookie of the year in 2007.

The hire was part of Nest Seekers’ broader expansion in the Hamptons, where the firm acquired two local franchises of Engel & Volkers, a German real estate brokerage, in May. The firm appointed Amadeus Ehrhardt, who was heading up Engel & Volkers’ Southampton office, as managing director; installed DeCristofaro as his second-in-command; and named Barbara Feldman, the former manager of Engels & Volker’s Easthampton office, as the head of that branch.

However, it appears that the relationship quickly soured. By mid-November, both DeCristofaro and Feldman had left the firm, and the parting was rumored to be less than amicable.

Shortly after his departure, DeCristofaro sued Nest Seekers in New York State Supreme Court, claiming the firm had breached his employment contract and defamed him in emails to clients and statements to the real estate community.

The jilted broker cited a November item from the real estate blog Curbed that quoted an anonymous source saying he had been stripped of his managerial duties “but refused to accept [it]… and kept telling everyone he was an owner/partner.”

In DeCristofaro’s account, Nest Seekers convinced his clients to drop him and unexpectedly changed the locks on his office, preventing him from collecting his client list, listing agreements, and paperwork on past exclusives and open houses, plus belongings such as personal photographs and a cell phone.

“I entered in to a signed agreement with Nest Seekers and they did not want to honor it, nor pay me for my efforts,” DeCristofaro said in an email to The Real Deal today. “Although I made several attempts to settle, I was forced out and had no other option than to get legal assistance.”

A representative for Edward Burke, a partner with Burke & Sullivan who is representing Nest Seekers, said the law firm could not comment on the litigation due to a confidentiality agreement. A representative from Nest Seekers did not immediately return a request for comment.

The parties signed an agreement Nov. 17 restricting what Nest Seekers could say about DeCristofaro to third parties, according to court documents. A court date does not appear to have been set.

DeCristofaro’s attorney, Jamie Svenson, an associate with Lieb at Law, also declined to speak about the case.

Meanwhile, DeCristofaro is forging ahead with his new business, which he said is handling more than $20 million in listings in the Hamptons and New York, including several development projects. LeaseHamptons currently has more than 2,000 rentals on offer, he said.

Though recruiting efforts are not formally underway, DeCristofaro said the firm has several Hamptons agents among its ranks and will bring on board two New York City agents in the next two weeks. DeCristofaro is aiming to have 50 agents working with him by the end of the year. Agents will make up to 90 percent commissions and will be able to sell in both markets, he said.


  • reddog

    If you look on the dos web site. joseph does not show up as having a license.. also he was a salesperson.. i do not think salespersons are permitted to be a manager.. Did he lie about his status to get the managerial job? I think the real deal needs to do some due diligence on this.. it is not all that it appears and this article seems somewhat biased. maybe he did tell some untruths about being a partner etc.. in attempt to make himself look more important than he was or is or ever will be!!

  • Scrooged

    It’s typical for brokers to see how a firm is run and then try and do their own brokerage. CitiHabitats perhaps spawned more firms than any other brokerage. Good for Joe for trying to do his own thing.

  • TheTruthWillOut

    Joe absolutely did have a license when he was hired and has also now gotten his broker’s license. Eddie Shapiro was totally aware of Joe’s status when he hired him and in his usual inimitable style, found a loophole way to get around the right way to do things in order to bring in Joe’s listings. Same as he did to Feldman, to whom he made promise upon promise until she came on board with her 9 upscale listings. Then he dumped both of them because they held him to those promises and Eddie does not like confrontation. On the other hand, Geoff Gifkins, who Eddie used to replace both DeChristofaro and Feldman, does not have ANY license, has an expired green card (and is therefore an illegal alien), and is both listing and selling. It is my understanding that the DOS is now actively investigating Nestcreepers, Gifkins, Shapiro, and the entire situation. As it should be. Yes good for Joe and good for Feldman, who was so unnerved by the entire situation and the unwarranted bad publicity that she left real estate and went back to her interior design and staging business.

  • reddog

    hello barbara.. i know you are truth will out..
    i think everyone knows it was not about the listings.. people in the industry know exactly what listings joe had. the nest seeker website had joe as a broker!! why didn’t he correct that!! he allowed it to be posted on the website.. i do not think any firm.. even nest seekers would risk the liability associated with falsifying status. was his license ever even transferred from corcoran..?? i do not think it ever was.. go on the department of state and all you see is his brothers license. also rumor has it that his time at corcoran was short lived and if he did not leave he would have been asked to leave.. there is more to this than real deal is reporting.. he knows how to manipulate people so real deal be careful . remember the saying you lie with dogs you get fleas!!!

  • Iknowmore

    Almost none of Nest Seekers managers have a broker license which is illegal according to DOS and that included Ryan Serhant (the so called superstar and in the million dollar listing) and well as Ravi and more.
    I know for a fact that Joe was offered full partnership with Eddie for all the Hamptons and then Eddie screwed him.
    Eddie is already known in the industry for lack of integrity and for bad mouthing everyone who leaves him…. All his managers left him and opened ‘Blu’ then Joe and Barbara and he had a few other managers who left him as well quietly although he bad mouthed them too.
    Time for the DOS and Rebny to investigate Nest Seekers for their shadiness including BS listings and putting other people’s listings on their website and Streeteasy pretending it’s their and many other shady stuff… Also, those managers without license should have their license suspended for a few years and Eddie’s as well.

  • hello

    Wow it’s Barbara and Joseph making all the comments here, I know more is Joe, and the truth will out Barbara… go on with your lives people, yes you opened your design business hope it goes great… yes you open your own real estate, still no license… i hope you truly get 50 agents, you are terrible with people, and nobody likes you but good for you, you are all by yourself.. maybe they really liked nest seekers and miss it, that’s why they keep talking about it so much? Let go!!!