In the next few weeks, when the Russian fertilizer billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev buys Donald Trump’s gargantuan Palm Beach estate Maison de L’Amitie for a reported $100 million, it will be the biggest sale ever of a single-family home in America.
“You don’t have to worry about me at all,” Mr. Trump told The Observer, when asked about the country’s real estate woes. “We’re doing well.”
Besides the bizarreness of a record-breaking sale during a mostly cruel year for real estate, there’s the astounding fact that the listing broker, Lawrence Moens—Mr. Trump calls him Larry—had only been showing the property since March.
But other big agents had come first.
During a Christmastime dinner at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, mega-broker Dolly Lenz, who reportedly did $748,319,000 in deals in 2006, four times higher than the second-biggest agent’s, was sitting at a table with her daughter. Mr. Trump came over to the broker, who had been listing the $125 million estate, featuring an 18-year-old, 33,000-square-foot French Regency-style mansion. “And I remember him saying,” Ms. Lenz said this week, “‘Do you know who Cris Condon is?’ And I said, ‘No.’ And he told me who she was, and he said, ‘I think I’m going to give her a try.’” Like that, the listing went from the near-omnipotent Ms. Lenz to Cristina Condon.
“I don’t even remember that Dolly had the listing, to be honest,” Mr. Trump said. “Considering I have a photographic memory, her offers obviously didn’t have a big impact—but I like Dolly and she does other work for me—add that in!”
Ms. Lenz said she had brought Mr. Trump a $90 million offer from an American socialite type. He rejected it, even though he himself had paid $41.35 million. (“He has his own little voice in his head,” she said last year, “and he does what his voice in his head tells him.”) She had gone after Eastern oligarch buyers, too. “If you didn’t target the Russian billionaires then you shouldn’t be in business. That’s the obvious group.”
After Ms. Lenz and Ms. Condon came Mr. Moens. “Look, I mean, everything in life is timing,” said Ms. Lenz’s boss, Elliman co-owner Howard Lorber. Incidentally, he recommended Ms. Lenz and later Mr. Moens after Mr. Trump had asked him to handle the listing: “I’m not a broker myself—I mean, I am, but I don’t do that,” Mr. Lorber said.
Another New York monolith, Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman, almost had the listing, too. “We talked with Donald early on about listing the property. I had a great tour with him,” she said, but it didn’t work out. No hard feelings: She saw him last week “at the golf club,” meaning Trump National in Bedminster, and congratulated him on the sale.