“He was extravagant and charming and fabulous and flamboyant and all that,” Ms. Candler said of her late father.
He went bankrupt around 1969, and the family moved from their 38-room mansion to a townhouse.
“For anyone to go bankrupt, of our family, was absolutely horrifying,” Ms. Candler explained. Her parents were divorced within a few years. “You know, sort of, life fell apart!” she said in a weird sing-song. “He went bankrupt and that was that.”
“He sure spent a lot of time in hot water, and a fair amount of time in a caftan,” said House Beautiful contributing editor Frances Schultz, a friend of the broker’s. “He would actually literally wear them to the driving club.”
Ms. Candler moved to New York in 1979, enrolled in Parsons and joined the Junior International Club set. “Daddy had done business with a lot of people in New York,” she said. “The Carnegies were friends of his, and Huntington Hartford.” After college, she became an assistant to interior designer doyenne Elisabeth Draper. “I had to get to work. And I took that seriously. It was always really important to make sure I would always be able to keep a roof over my head.” That decade, her father was convicted on eight counts of passing $3.8 million in fraudulent checks.
Around 1989, when she was attending parties for Saul Steinberg in Quogue or for Malcolm Forbes in Morocco, interior design led to apartment sales. Then Manhattan real estate crashed.
“I mean, there were a few years that were the kind of scary that some brokers starting out now are going to see,” Ms. Candler said. “Thank heavens that I’m my mother’s child. … I don’t buy jewelry, I don’t buy artwork, I don’t buy cars, I don’t want to buy horses, I don’t want to travel more. … I always know my entire budget, I know everything I spend, I am not a huge spender, I don’t borrow any money I can’t pay back, and I never have less money than—I mean, I have a mortgage on something” (a modest place in Water Mill) “only because my accountant said, ‘You have got to have a mortgage.’”
She’s been renting the same Central Park South studio for around two decades. “I live in small spaces. That’s what I like. I wouldn’t want to live in a vast space. … I love other people to have those apartments. I totally understand it. I love coming back to my little nest as long as I can look out and see everything.”
Ms. Candler, unlike most brokers, and especially unlike most powerful brokers, seems genuinely happy. Her friend Lynn Nesbit, the potent literary agent, called it ebullience mixed with pragmatism.
What makes Ms. Candler happiest and most fulfilled, besides proper co-ops, is the ubiquitous presence of a 10-year-old black pug named Major Commitment. “And that’s amazing contentment, what a strange thing,” Ms. Candler said. “But I’m too kinetic; ‘contentment’ implies chewing my cud, which I don’t do. I don’t sit around going, ‘Oh, I’m fine.’ I always shuffle around.”
The hedge fund manager and his philanthropist wife are still shuffling, too. This month, Ms. Candler listed their full-floor condo at the Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South for $35 million. The couple bought it only this July for $28.5 million, but, like their place at 1040 Fifth Avenue and then the record-setting duplex penthouse at 1060 Fifth Avenue, the Ritz-Carlton turned out to be not quite perfect. “We’re totally looking,” the wife said this week. “And Leighton is our broker. I would like to wait out the co-op market a little bit, but, of course, we’re always looking.”
Do these wait-and-see months bring back bad memories of the broker’s father? “Actually,” Ms. Candler said, “I’m completely over that now.”