Bond nabs nine agents from defunct Manhattan Apartments, while A.C. Lawrence gets 46

Rival firms have a history of tension over hiring brokers

Bruno Ricciotti and Larry Friedman
Bruno Ricciotti and Larry Friedman

Bond New York has picked up nine agents from the recently shuttered Manhattan Apartments, representing about 10 percent of the salespeople at the defunct brokerage, The Real Deal has learned. Meanwhile, 46 agents have decided to stick with A.C. Lawrence Real Estate, the firm that took over Manhattan Apartments’ Midtown office space and other assets, and offered slots to its sales agents.

“We are thrilled to welcome such an enthusiastic and positive-minded group of professionals with such a successful and productive track record,” Bruno Ricciotti, founder of Bond, said in a statement.

Larry Friedman, a principal and co-founder of A.C. Lawrence, declined to comment on the agents leaving for Bond, noting that they had never worked at his firm. But he was gratified that about half the Manhattan Apartments agents opted for his brokerage. “I’m excited that we have a large group of people that have decided to join A.C. Lawrence, and excited for them to learn our resources and for them to take advantage of all that we have to offer,” Friedman said.

The agents joining Bond are Joseph Tedeschi; Greg Witchel; husband-and-wife team Steven Druth and Tina Borges Druth; Greg Witchel and Monica Kampf, who are engaged; Lewis “Skip” Teel; Dale Bowrin; James McHugh; and Minara Lama. They will all join Bond’s headquarters at 1776 Broadway, near Columbus Circle, and will focus on both rentals and sales.

Bond and A.C. Lawrence have tangled before over a similar issue, after Century 21 NY Metro collapsed in late 2010. A.C. Lawrence assumed the former firm’s office space and many of its agents, including Century 21 founder Marc Lewis, while many other agents decamped for Bond.

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With more than 500 agents and five offices, Bond had been the much larger firm. A.C. Lawrence had about 150 agents and a single office, but was recently acquired by Bellmarc Companies, bringing its agent count to about 400.

In September 2011, A.C. Lawrence accused Ricciotti and former Century 21 brokers who had joined Bond of hacking its proprietary listing system, and filed a lawsuit seeking $5 million in damages, as The Real Deal reported. Bond has “vehemently” denied the allegations.

Most recently, the parties have agreed to put a temporary hold on discovery, or the process of exchanging documents and other evidence. Some of the Bond agents have also asked the court to dismiss certain allegations against them.

The former Manhattan Apartments agents who joined Bond were optimistic about the move, although they declined to comment on their ex-firm. Kampf, who had previously worked at Morgan Stanley, said that Bond’s “infrastructure mimicked that of a corporate finance firm.” Druth said he was “was attracted to Bond because it has grown organically and with integrity,” adding, “Bruno promised us the world and has delivered us even more.”

Druth and Borges Druth had worked for 26 years as real estate agents in Boston, where he focused on multi-family sales and she handled corporate relocation rentals and consulted on leasing new buildings. The couple moved to New York City about a year and a half ago; both of their children live here.

Jerry Weinstein, the founder of Manhattan Apartments, who also joined A.C. Lawrence, was not immediately available for comment.