Michael Shvo vs. the World

It’s indefinable—

It’s very definable, because you see results. You see how Shvo buildings sell for much more money, they sell much faster …. You talk about Philippe Starck—we had an opening there [on May 1], and I had a thousand people come there. And they came there because they wanted to see the new thing that Shvo is doing.

You’ve had a big influence on marketing homes in Manhattan in the last few years. Do you feel that you’re being mimicked by marketers?

I think people have tried to take ideas that we’ve done and copied them—

Who?

We’ll talk about that later. But if you think about it, then I don’t have to name it—you can look at it. Listen, from the first idea we ever had—put a refrigerator in every lobby for Fresh Direct—that’s something that became a disease.

I definitely think we’re the leaders in the industry today, and people do follow us. I don’t see that as a threat, because it’s a compliment that people copy us. What developers and marketers need to understand is the essence of what we do: We don’t do the same thing twice.

But don’t you worry about running out of ideas?

I have a business-development team, and all they do all day is really go through opportunities that are offered to us. We get, I would say, a dozen calls a day from developers all over the world. Do I feel I’m going to run out of ideas? No. Did Picasso run out of ideas? He painted thousands and thousands of pictures. Look at Andy Warhol—did he ever run out of ideas? No. And his pieces are selling for millions of dollars today.

Anything we touch, from every aspect, has to be a one-of-a-kind, unique product. So if we’re doing a building in New York, or in D.C. or in Houston or in Mexico or in Asia, each of these buildings has to be a unique product—for that location, for that place.

When did you start branching out so much internationally?

I think in the past year—really because there’s opportunities internationally that, in New York, you can’t really do. If you think about what we do, my goal is not to do every project in New York—it’s not even remotely close to that. In the past few months, I think we maybe took on three new projects in New York; we took probably three times that amount outside New York.

Mostly that’s because our goal is to do a unique product. There’s not that many opportunities here to do a unique product.