The (Plentiful) Life and Death of Linda Stein

Stein was mentioned in the press around 20 times a year from 1987 (when the film Wall Street featured a broker based on her) to 1991, when her New York profile ran. But publicity was not always good for her. In 1996, Stein was reportedly fired from Sotheby’s the day after making a crack to The New York Times about businessmen billionaires like David Geffen. “But that’s Linda telling stories, being a great entertainer,” said Sotheby’s broker Roberta Golubock. “She had this thing, this rock ’n’ roll aspect, and nobody else had it.”

Now you can’t swing a cat on the Upper East Side without hitting a real estate broker who pretends to have a personality. It’s all a pastiche of the personality Stein made famous: You’re loud, you push, you’re open and brazen and casual and frenetic all at once. But it’s all imitation—Stein was the genuine article.

“She was very creative, she was a marketing genius,” said Dolly Lenz, a colleague of Stein’s at Douglas Elliman.

This is the kind of client she had: When Ms. Lenz was listing Barbra Streisand’s penthouse at 320 Central Park West, Stein suggested the place to Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler. “There was always something that didn’t work for Trudie,” Ms. Lenz said. “[Stein] probably showed her 14 times, she said, ‘You’ll fix this, you’ll fix that.’”

That deal didn’t happen, although Sting and his wife bought the two 88 Central Park West apartments Stein once sold to Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley.

“Sting, I have him crazy now!” Stein told this reporter in April, when she was listing that old 88 Central Park West duplex of his yet again, this time looking for a $24 million buyer. “I have him looking for very wealthy Orthodox Jews that are Sephardic, so they can walk to the [nearby] synagogue on the Sabbath.”

“I like to see the reaction when I say, ‘Well, sir, the truth is, you do have to come up with another million dollars,’” Stein said in that interview. “I want to hear a gasp, a breath, a curse.”