The Real Deal New York

Real estate titans come together for “The Closing” book party

TRD’s first book is a collection of 100 interviews with the industry’s biggest players
By Hiten Samtani | October 08, 2015 02:45PM

The premise of “The Closing” interview is simple: each month, sit down with an individual who not only made it to the summit of the New York real estate industry, but through a combination of skill, grit, and chutzpah, shaped it. The interviews have endured because they are so personal: they go beyond the deals and reveal what makes the dealmaker tick.

Now, nearly a decade after The Real Deal published its first Closing, we have compiled 100 of these interviews in our first book. And to celebrate the book launch, many of the names featured in its pages joined us at the Four Seasons Restaurant Tuesday.

Among the guests: HFZ Capital Group’s Ziel Feldman; Rudin Management’s Bill Rudin; Savanna’s Chris Schlank; Douglas Elliman’s Dottie Herman; Rockrose Development’s Henry and Justin Elghanayan; Corcoran Group’s Pamela Liebman; L&L Holdings Robert Lapidus; Cushman & Wakefield’s Paul Massey and Bob Knakal; Stribling & Associates’ Elizabeth Stribling; Peebles Corporation’s Don Peebles; Stonehenge Partners’ Ofer Yardeni; MHP Real Estate Services’ Norman Sturner; RAL’s Robert Levine; Brown Harris Stevens’ Hall Willkie; Michael Shvo, and scores of other bigwigs.

“What makes this book so inspirational,” said TRD publisher Amir Korangy in a speech, “is that many of these people weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths and didn’t inherit a dime. They built their fortunes from scratch, which makes for great stories.” But, he added, even these seemingly charmed lives experienced “heartbreak, setbacks, and even jail,” and the book revealed how they dealt with those challenges.

During the speech, Korangy asked Peebles if he would be running for mayor, and the developer said he’s “still thinking about it.” His potential rival in the 2017 race, former New York Jets defensive linesman Michel Faulkner, was also in the house.

Stuart Elliott, TRD’s editor-in-chief, told the audience about some of the common themes that emerged from the interviews: wisdom, exotic hobbies and “tremendous confidence – also known as ego.”

The Four Seasons was familiar territory for many of the guests — after all, it inspired the term “power lunch.” Restaurant co-owner Alex Von Bidder was spotted schmoozing with Feldman and Schlank- perhaps the Savanna chief was trying to convince him to take up gyrotonics, an exercise that Schlank referred to in his Closing interview as “three-dimensional Pilates.”

Massey, an avid boxer, revealed the secret of his success in the ring: “I pay the younger guys not to beat me up too bad,” he joked.

The event was a chance to share stories and catch up with old friends. Skyline Properties’ Robert Khodadadian and 5Points Group’s Alan Miller reminisced about their days at Eastern Consolidated, Stribling caught up with Kramer Levin partner (and skeet shooter extraordinaire) Jay Neveloff, and Richard Lane of the Olnick Organization, who happened to be grabbing a drink next door, popped in to chat with his cronies.

Knakal, who along with Massey sold their namesake firm to Cushman for a reported $100 million, in January, recounted how the duo nearly went bankrupt twice in their early years growing the brokerage.

“We had only $15,000 left,” Knakal recalled. “We considered going to Atlantic City and putting it all on black.”

“The Closing” can be purchased here.

Kerry Barger, Rich Bockmann, Rey Mashayekhi and Mark Maurer contributed reporting. All photos by Stephen Smith: Guest of a Guest