Mega-brokerage firm Douglas Elliman saw a wave of personnel changes this summer, hiring several high-profile agents after longtime super-broker Dolly Lenz’s departure.
Last month, Elliman hired “Million Dollar Listing New York” star Luis Ortiz after Keller Williams NYC fired him, reportedly over his involvement in the Bravo reality show. And two top brokers from the boutique firm CORE also recently joined Elliman: top producer Michael Graves and Vickey Barron, with Barron taking with her the exclusive marketing assignment for the high-profile Walker Tower condominium at 212 West 18th Street. When asked why he chose Elliman, Ortiz said through a spokesperson: “Everything is new — new apartment, new company, new season, new life.” And Graves told The Real Deal that he’s looking to utilize Elliman’s “many powerful tools and connections in order to grow my business.”
Elliman declined to comment on its recruiting strategy, but industry insiders said the high-profile broker hires are likely an effort to fill the void left by Lenz, who left to form her own brokerage. “Dolly leaving, it opens up a vacuum,” said Kathy Braddock, Rutenberg Realty co-founder and a former Elliman executive. Not only is Elliman likely looking for top brokers to bring in pricey listings, but Lenz’s departure makes the company more attractive now that there is room for other agents to shine.
“Some people want to be in that limelight where they are considered to be the top,” Braddock said. “When [Lenz] was there, clearly that was going to be a very limited [option] for people. So I think it opened up space for somebody to come in and perhaps take that position over.”
Of course, brokers already at Elliman are also jockeying to fill the top spot vacated by Lenz. Elliman’s Lisa Simonsen took over a $95 million listing at the Sherry Netherland when Lenz left. And Rick Friedberg is now the sole broker marketing a $12.5 million townhouse at 116 East 61st Street, which he previously co-listed with Lenz.