Appraiser butting heads — literally

Vanderbilt cofounder puts aside number crunching to coach Olympic rugby team

Andrew Fautley, a veteran New York City appraiser, has been cracking skulls for years. No, he doesn’t moonlight for the mafia; he takes out his aggression on the rugby field.

And now he’s taking his hobby, which was catapulted to the forefront of the American consciousness with the blockbuster movie “Invictus” last year, to the world stage.

Indeed, with the recent Olympic Committee decision to bring on rugby as an official sport of the games (in exhibition in 2012 and officially in 2016), Fautley, 47, is trading in his calculator for his rugby jersey. The cofounder of the Vanderbilt Appraisal Company has left his firm and the world of real estate in New York City, upstate and New Jersey indefinitely to manage and help coach the U.S. men’s Olympic squad.

He said the decision to accept the Olympic team position was of little surprise to his customers. “Most of my clients have unfortunately been forced to know about my passion with rugby,” Fautley told The Real Deal via e-mail from Australia, where the team is currently training and where he’s been putting in 18 hours a day.

The British-born appraiser — who’s been playing rugby for over 40 years — moved to the U.S. from England in 1986 and joined the New York Rugby Club almost immediately. He’s either played or coached for them ever since. He said the “physical, sometimes brutal, contact [of the rugby field] very much appealed to me.”

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While there are aspects of the appraisal business he misses (“the ability of knowing the constant ebb and flow of value in different corridors,” for one), he said, “I really don’t miss the constant barrage of appraisal management phone calls and e-mails asking for status at all hours, even though you updated them electronically an hour prior.”

“Since the credit crisis it has been a very cold environment to work [in], almost clinical,” he added.

He said his business partners have been “amazingly supportive” of his decision.

Michael Vargas, cofounder of Vanderbilt and Fautley’s long-time partner, said the decision to head to the Olympic field was understandable.

“[It’s] an opportunity he shouldn’t pass up,” Vargas said. “We hope that when he’s not doing rugby full-time, he’ll do business with us again.”

In the meantime, Vargas said he’s heading to the Olympics in 2012 and planning a Vanderbilt Appraisal cheering section.