The Real Deal New York

Behind the scenes at Fried Frank’s 2017 holiday party

“The who’s who of real estate is here.”
By Rich Bockmann | December 06, 2017 06:00PM

From left: Jonathan Resnick, Jonathan Mechanic and Burt Resnick (Credit: Steve Friedman)

The annual holiday bash hosted by Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson’s real estate group has a reputation for drawing the biggest names in the industry. And while the markets many of Tuesday night’s attendees play in may be in the slumps, their night was anything but.

Charles Kushner, Eliot Spitzer, Ziel Feldman and Ralph Herzka were among the many living it up inside the cavernous Cipriani space on 42nd Street, where many partygoers spent the night schmoozing while packed shoulder-to-shoulder amid the immense crowd.

“The who’s who of real estate is here,” said Meyer Mintz, a partner at the accounting and advisory firm Berdon LLP. “Instead of doing 50 lunches, I can meet 50 people in one spot.”

It’s no surprise Fried Frank draws such a large crowd every year. With 96 attorneys working in real estate, the firm has the largest industry practice in the city, as The Real Deal reported in October.

Jonathan Mechanic, the affable chair of the firm’s real estate practice, spent a good portion of the night by the room’s entrance, where he shared hearty hugs and bellyful laughs with those coming and going as they posed for pictures.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Bob Knakal was in attendance with colleague Paul Massey, who called his scrapped run for mayor earlier this year a “wild ride” and a “tremendous learning experience.”

Massey, whose contract with Cushman is up in July, said he’ll be spending the holidays skiing in Park City, Utah, and is eagerly looking forward to what 2018 will bring.

“I’m looking for the next fun thing,” he said.

See more highlights from the 2017 holiday parties

Many brokers, particularly those in the investment-sales and finance sides of the business, said they saw a noticeable uptick in activity during the second half of the year and are anticipating a strong 2018.

Hodges Ward Elliott’s Will Silverman said much of the uncertainty that pushed many players to the sidelines seems to be settling down.

“I think people realize the world isn’t ending,” he said.

And while it may be good advice for some other parties to show up fashionably late, the A-listers at Fried Frank show up early, and if you’re lagging there’s a good chance you could miss them.

Extell Development’s Gary Barnett seemed to have a circle of people waiting to talk to him everywhere he went. When the development guru was asked if he would sit down for an on-camera interview to discuss his career the way former partner Ziel Feldman recently did, Barnett replied, “Ziel’s the movie star, not me.”

Newmark Knight Frank, which on Monday filed paperwork showing it plans to raise $615 million through its initial public offering, was out in full force, with Barry Gosin, Jeff Gural and Jimmy Kuhn making the rounds, as well as many of the rank-and-file brokers.

David Falk, president of the tri-state region for Newmark, said they hadn’t “popped the champagne corks yet,” but that the mood around the company was very excited.

Also spotted: Jeff Sutton; Stonehenge Partners’ Ofer Yardeni; REBNY’s Jim Whelan and soon-to-be REBNY chair Bill Rudin; Kushner Companies’ Laurent Morali; Empire State Realty Trust’s Anthony Malkin; RXR Realty’s Scott Rechler; Silverstein Properties’ Marty Burger; Marcus & Millichap’s Eric Anton; Singer & Bassuk’s Andrew Singer; Richard Baxter, Yoron Cohen and David Green of Colliers International; CBRE’s Bill Shanahan, Leslie Himmel of Himmel + Meringoff Properties; Arris Properties Group’s Denis Shan and Stephen Muller; Newmark’s Dustin Stolly; JLL’s Aaron Appel; Hornig Capital Partner’s Daren Hornig; air-rights guru Bob Shapiro; and Cushman’s Joanne Podell, Doug Harmon and Adam Spies.

Hiten Samtani, Kathryn Brenzel, Adam Pincus, Will Parker, Konrad Putzier, Eddie Small and Mark Maurer contributed reporting.