New York is by far one of the most exciting and interesting cities in the world. New York real estate is without doubt expensive yet worthy. Laurance Kaiser IV, a senior sales executive at Luxury Collection, talks about his experiences as a seasoned real estate broker in the urban jungle of New York. Knowing every nook and cranny of the city’s finest and most practical places, he gives us the inside scoop on what it’s like to work in the New York real estate market for so many decades and shares which properties are best depending on the amenities and nearby establishments you prefer.
I’m so glad you joined us because we have Laurance Kaiser IV. He’s an icon in New York City real estate and he’s going to give us the inside scoop on what it’s like to work in the real estate market for so many decades. He has a lot of information.
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New York Real Estate From A Seasoned Broker’s Perspective with Laurance Kaiser IV
I am here with Larry Kaiser who is a true icon in the New York real estate market. He is likely the longest practicing residential broker in the city, as he puts it, the last survivor. It’s an honor to have you here. Larry, thank you for being on the show.
You have a very interesting background and I wanted to have you tell it because I could read a bio but I want to know how you got to this place in real estate. I saw you started a residential firm with your stepmother, but curious about the background that led to that.
After I graduated from law school, I wasn’t wild about lawyers because as Shakespeare said, “First thing kill the lawyers and I want you to go on life.” My family owned lots of real estates and I found it fascinating. I had a dear friend who was a member of the Lehman family, Lehman Bagley. She said, “Larry first, let’s go to 21 and have lunch and then we’ll look. I want to buy an apartment in New York.” I know financially she was secure and very social, so we went to 21 and had bull shots all day. I showed her apartments up and down the line. I realized that she only wanted an apartment at my mother’s building. Mommy had about fifteen rooms on the front and she wanted ten rooms on the back so she could use mommy’s staff without having to pay for them. Lo and behold, that’s what happened. Mommy ended up passing away and I sold that apartment. Sharon, her daughter, kept the back apartment for a while. She was selling her place in Palm Beach and wanted to come back and launch it out if there was anything in the back of my mother’s building and I said, “Not yet. We have to wait for somebody to die.”
That’s challenging to get the real estate where you want in New York. Once you get in, do people just hold onto it and not want to let go? I imagine.
When I started in real estate, it was a totally different thing. They were very few firms and sellers were very cautious about who they were willing to list their properties with because they didn’t want board turn downs. There were all restrictions and buyers did not want to go into a building where they might’ve been turned down because that was very embarrassing for them. Brokers were cautious because if the seller would no longer list with them and the word got out, that was half of your career going down the tube and the other half was when the buyer would spread the rumor that the broker was no good and they were turned down for no reason. It was a very cautious business.
I have a real estate license here in Arizona. It’s completely different than New York.
We had co-ops here. The first condominium was actually built by Aristotle Onassis and that was the Olympic Tower. Other than that, co-ops, you’re buying shares of stock in a private corporation, and they can decide to whom they want to transfer the stock or to whom they don’t.
Is that why there’s so much more reliance on lawyers and things in New York because you don’t see that same thing. I have a good friend of mine, Dr. Gilda Carle had told me she was selling her place in New York and it seemed like you guys do things so differently. You don’t start with title companies. Is that why?
We don’t have title companies. Basically, it started out you needed financial references and way back when you needed to show liquidity. In other words, you will be $200 million worth of Monet’s, and if there’s no market for the Monet painting, you were not liquid and you needed social references. In the final buildings, which is how things began when they were not that many buildings around. They wanted people who belong to their clubs, whose children they knew. Buying into a co-op was buying into a club, and they were never allowed to tell you why they wanted to turn you down. They simply would smile and wave goodbye.
I mentioned your stepmother. You’re Laurance Kaiser IV. Were the first three in real estate as well?
They all owned a lot of lands, but they weren’t in real estate. They were owners. I own two. Nothing wrong with owning because I was always told God’s not making any more of it.
It’s pretty expensive in New York. Did you have to work hard to get your first big deals? I know you traveled quite a bit and you were in upper circles.Way back, real estate was a totally different thing. It was a very cautious business. Click To Tweet
I went to school in Europe and I knew all the Arabic kids who are kings of their companies. I knew people from Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and on and on, up and down the line and then in the orient. They were friends and friends will be loyal. Many years later, they sure remember who you were and what class you were in. My sister wants to buy here, my mother wants you to buy, we’ll go to you. Other brokers are being sneaky. If you show their exclusives, they try to grab your customer from you, but they’re not successful with me. I’m the Gestapo, believe me.
Can you represent the legal apart since you’re a lawyer or do you have to have a separate? I don’t know how that works.
I choose not to. I will give advice, but I believe people should have attorneys to know what’s going on. Basically, both sides are represented by an attorney. In co-ops more than anything else, the attorneys are very cautious about checking the board applications to find out you didn’t misrepresent or you forgot something or you didn’t cross the T or dotted the I. New York is more difficult than almost any city. San Francisco has a few co-ops, but everything came on with condos and climbed in a condo. You can have 27 ears, fourteen noses, and whooping cough and get through the board because you’re buying real estate outright. You’re not buying shares or stock. However with condos, they’re not allowed to turn you down. If they don’t like you, they can ask for more information. After six months of more information, you’re tired and you say, “Let’s move on.”
There are so many people who would like to live in certain buildings, but they adept social references. Do you get a lot of movie stars who think that they should be able to have a place and then they can’t get a place? I’m curious about celebrities.
I had one. Gloria Swanson, people know her. Had an apartment in the co-op. She was a lovely, most charming lady and she said she wants you to sell and move to a rental. She actually had a very pretty garden outside her apartment and she slept on a futon overlooking the garden. Polly Bergen was pleasant, but I’m courteous. That was the first time I met Alex Trebek because I showed them both an apartment. Joan Collins was recommended, a lovely lady. In fact, I was ten minutes late for an appointment on this horrible rainy day and she wants you to look earlier. It was 9:00 in the morning because she had movie stuff or business stuff to do. She looked magnificent and I got there fifteen minutes late. She didn’t say a word, she just looked at her wrist with a clock on it and smiled. I knew she was lovely. She was impeccable and she was right to the point. Oprah was lovely. Oprah couldn’t have been sweeter and nicer. To the elevator man, she was charming. She would give autographs. She was a lady.
Did she buy it from you?
She ended up not buying. She was back and forth. When she wanted to look again, she had to go to South Africa or whatever else, did the girls’ school, and this and that. Finally, she ended up buying in Montecito right next to a dear friend of mine, Sally Jordan. She does what she wants to and she doesn’t spend much time in New York. She goes to a hotel because she knows she was more in Chicago and in California.
I think she has a place in Hawaii.
Hawaii was the one that she wanted to buy something in mint condition in New York because she said she was doing such a renovation in Hawaii and the renovation was enough. Bette Midler is lovely. Everybody adores her. She’s doesn’t have an ego. She just has talent.
That must be interesting to meet so many interesting people. Do you have to be a celebrity to afford to live in New York City? What does it cost?
In condos, you can move in with fourteen ears and three noses. In co-ops, they are difficult and I can understand that because you need security and buildings, don’t want publicity and these columns where so and so lives in such and such and the autograph hunters are waiting outside. You read that and I feel sorry for some of the celebrities because you find out that it was the gentleman who goes out with JLo and it was in the papers. He reported an apartment at 32 East 67. It’s the tallest building. Somebody across the street was photographing him nude in his bathroom.
You can’t have any privacy.
I would wave.
I’m curious about the amenities in some of these places and the penthouses. What are the penthouses like? I’m sure you’ve seen some amazing places.
In tall buildings, everybody has their own choices. I’d be afraid. You step out on the terrace, you got blown away. There was a storm in New York and the upper floors become like cotton candy. You can’t see because of the fog. Some people don’t like tall floors. They may want to view, but they also like to see that there’s humanity there. Quite frankly also this between up in a very tall building, if you have to go to the loo, believe me, it’s a long way. Not only that, this may seem crazy, but doctors told me that elevators in the tall building are very fast. Ladies systems internally cannot stand very quick things. The old story tickles me and they have an accident in my pants. That’s the same thing with going up in an elevator like that. They don’t go fast because the men’s bladder is different.
I’ve seen that they have lower level mini penthouses. Is that what they’re doing in New York?
They do everything. It’s zoning. My office faces the park, which was the tallest building until something came up on Central Park South. There’s a monster office building going up right next to it that’s about 60 floors. Across the street, it’s all zoning and buying air rights. People have their own choices. Some people don’t want views. Some people wanted exposure. Some people want to face the park. Some people are afraid of water. One of my first customers was a lovely Chinese couple and I showed them an apartment in East River, and they said, “It’s lovely but we can’t buy there because it faces police smokestacks.” Police smokestacks were a sign of death in China.
It’s interesting about the other cultural differences. I’m curious about the size of some of these penthouses. What are the biggest homes?
Ken Griffin who got all this publicity for buying big things, I think has four floors and the building is just going up. You can buy 25,000 square feet if you’re willing to buy from the developer and he wants to do what you want. You can buy anything.
Somebody like Donald Trump’s place, how big would his house be?
He has a triplex, but he built the building so he can decide what he wants and it’s actually lovely. He has beautiful views and the caseload was personal but it’s lovely. Some people don’t want monstrous apartments. The trouble in New York and I’m sure in other cities too, the Millennials, they have different taste levels. They’d be very happy with crate and barrel not with Sotheby’s and Christie’s and eighteenth-century furniture. They don’t want a huge service kitchen close to a pantry, close to a long corridor with nine maid’s rooms. They can afford it, but they don’t want it. They like big eat-in kitchens and the housekeeper is talking to the lady at the household by your first name and they wear sneakers and the kids are joining them. They want light, clean things. They can be a lovely taste, but if they’re not interested in silverware and if something breaks, they don’t worry about it because they can always replace it. It’s a different market and they’re the ones who are basically buying the condominiums downtown and all over.
Is there a certain part of town they prefer?
They’re down in Tribeca. A lot of them work down there. The views are very pretty, but I noticed that when they get married and they have children, the best schools, 95% of them are uptown. They move from the tip of Manhattan up to the 90th on Park and Madison and 5th, we have old schools.
That would be such an interesting way to live when you have children. Are there any misconceptions that people have about what it’s like to own real estate in New York City? It’s not that easy to get in the middle of the city from the airport. It’s a little bit of a drive and you can’t get in and out that well, especially when there’s lots of traffic.
When you get into New York, you get into paradise. Do you want to get into Milwaukee? How do you like Grand Milwaukee? When you’re landing at an airport and people look down just before the landing and they see all the views, it’s like getting vitamin B12 shots. You’re all excited about the whole thing. Go to Hoboken and you’re not excited. You have a whip, chain and the gun.
What’s the best airport to fly into?In condos, you can move in with fourteen ears and three noses. Click To Tweet
New York, Peterborough and Westchester airport because that’s for private planes.
For the rest of the world, is it best to fly into JFK or LaGuardia?
Number one, 80% of the European flights go through JFK and Newark. I’ve never been a Newark fan. It’s too big. Getting over there could be a pain in the neck because crossing the bridge and going all these tunnels and going over traffic. Going to Palm Beach in Florida, I have to like LaGuardia. They may be in construction but you have a good driver who knows what’s going on and it’s close. If you go there at a certain time, you can get through at twenty minutes.
Is there a downside to you to living in New York City? Is it the same as it always was or has it changed for you?
The world has changed. I got a call from a friend who lived between a great banking family in between New York and she’s Norwegian. She just arrived at her house in Paris. She’s a member of all the clubs. She said, “Larry, I’m leaving for Norway. Paris is not the same.” It’s not the fact that it’s dangerous or whatever else, it’s people who used to wear black tie on Saturday nights and go to Maxine. It was elegant and lovely. In New York, nothing is the same, but New York is still the most exciting city in the Occident. Singapore is lovely. Shanghai is lovely, but they’re highly specialized. I have homes in various places, but I find I need New York less. Twelve months a year, seven days a week that a lot of people leave at the cities because it’s summer and everybody’s going away. New York is full of the Chileans, the Argentines, the Australians where it’s winter there, it’s right here and they love it. Everything is seven days a week. The theaters are open. Restaurants and many places close over the weekends, they do not. Everybody has smiles on their faces and shopping bags and it’s exciting. It’s also a very courteous city. I’ve seen people walk down the street and foreigners with different accents and they’re looking at maps and people walk over to them, “Can we help you?” Not to beat you over the head. We have an interesting mayor here.
I love that everything is open all the time. I’ve seen some great plays there. I’m sure if you’ve lived there forever, you’ve probably seen. What’s the most amazing play or show you’ve seen?
The best show I’ve seen, and I want to see it ten times is Cher. It is superb. The best dancing, the three ladies who play are wonderful with magnificent costumes and wonderful voices. It was a thrill. I’m not a theater going out because Broadway is so crowded. There are other shows that have good publicity. Life these days is a perfect relations station. Cher is absolutely wonderful. I know the person when I was in the theater, I do not know the producers or whatever else. There were good restaurants around there too.
It’s nice to go to see some of the amazing shows. I think Hello, Dolly! I saw it was probably one of the last ones I was at. It’s been a while. I saw Hugh Jackman.
I loved Hello, Dolly! with Bette Midler and I saw it with Ethel Merman. She was wonderful.
I got to see Victor Victoria with Julie Andrews and I loved to do that. I love the movie and she did such a great job. I would have liked to have had Leslie and Warren be in it. She wasn’t, I don’t think when I saw it. You have to deal with all these people with different cultures and different things. Do you have people who are super picky buyers and sellers? How do you deal with all that?
I was taught when I first started in real estate, which might as well be in selling clothing, buyers are liars. They want a penthouse and then you dragged them to see amazing like, “It’s like a private house with all the security in an apartment building. I’ll take it.” Where they want a low floor and then they see the high floor. They have to fall in love with something. It’s like falling in love with another person. You want somebody three feet tall and you ended up with somebody with two arms and fourteen legs and they’re nine-feet tall, but they’ve got a good personality.
When you’re showing people places, it’s so different than here in Arizona. I had to drive around forever. Did you get in a cab together? How do you guys do that there?
Way back when there were fewer things to show unless somebody who’s very old, you would say, “Do you like to walk?” I’ll point out and my reputation is known building by building in New York. I don’t say that out of ego, but nobody else knows it. I give them walking tours and point. “This building is lovely. This building, the windows are larger. This building, the windows are lower to the floor so you could look at it afar but you don’t have to walk over to the window to see the view.” When you have two good rooms on the park and the rest is in the back, I point everything out. As people got older, they didn’t have walking shoes, you would take a car. I didn’t have a car or a driver because taxis were paying. With a car and driver, maybe it’s a little more expensive but they’ll wait for you. With a taxi, you’re getting out of one building, and you have to have the doorman hail and then on and on and it became problematic.
That’s got to be challenging though to get to a bunch of different areas. Did most people just pick one block or do they look all over the place?
Remember buyers are liars. They never know what they want. If you know your client and you know their quality, what they choose and you know their finances to a degree, you show them a few of the best and few of the worst, high floors and low. You can do everything in a day-a-half if you schedule your appointments well and you’re dealing with other brokers. You’ve got to be more or less on time and you never show with other brokers you’re a pain in the neck who may have a listing because they can kill a deal too. Where there’s money involved, believe me, it’s all your different buildings. You don’t show listings of people who are going to try to grab your client.
It’s such a different thing to be in. I was a loan officer before I ever was in real estate. You always did a lot of pre-qualifying. I don’t know if you did that in the old days, but a lot of real estate agents here like to do open houses to get leads and all that. What’s it like there in respect to how you deal with that?
Basically, you will do an open house for brokers. The last thing you want to do when there are co-ops is open houses, advertising, newspapers. You never know who’s going to walk in. They can hit you over the head, and it happens. I don’t want that because buildings have different qualifications. We’ll have an open house to people who are lovely, but they can’t pass the board.
You get your leads. That’s why they do it here. They get leads for something else.
I do recommendations and even with Berkshire Hathaway, which is huge. More or less, we know who we are, what we are, by the same token and showing you an apartment in New York, people say, “It’s so pretty.” I always say Greenwich might be interesting and I say, “We have things in Greenwich too.” That will convince you either to be a city person or a country person and go on from there. When I started out and when you’re going to deny it, the best buildings and they were very few were buildings that are architecturally beautiful basically done by either a carpenter or an Italian architect.
You talked about some of the buildings and the structure and all that. That would make me think, you have wonderfully old buildings there. A lot of people want to have all the new technology and all the new stuff, I’m sure the Millennials especially. Are they just ripping out everything on the inside and rebuilding?
They rip out everything and a lot of buildings have some summer work rules and you can only work three months a year. You can only work if people are allowed into the building where they work at 9:00 and must leave by 5:00, which means at 4:00 they have to change their uniforms and they don’t get in until 10:00. You can have a five-year renovation at which you’re paying heavy maintenance. Young people generally like new, fresh, clean crate and barrel, even if it’s fabulous Danish modern. They like lots of light and easily done things. They are long renovation.
Why did it take so long because you can only get in there for a certain amount of time each year you said? Is that the main reason?
They have to approve your work, not just the building, but the city. You can’t decide to put a fresh line in an apartment to put it in a powder room where there are no waterlines near it. You have to be careful because there’s somebody above you and somebody below. I know I’m renovating an apartment myself for my own and let me tell you, it isn’t easy. I happened to love the building and I love facing Central Park. For me, it’s paradise. I don’t want to go along with it and I also have another home, so I’m not lying on the street. It’s difficult, but when you end up it’s like movie stars. Before they were told about the makeup artists and the dress designers, speech lessons and dance lessons. They look like Mighty Joe Young the monkey, and four hours later they came out and there was Rita Hayworth. I’m saying she was always a beautiful lady but all of a sudden, they came out and they were in paradise. It’s all the renovations. You must also select your customers. If they want to see something and they pass the outside of the building, they say, “Architecturally, it’s so beautiful to be at.” You have to tell them. Do you know something? They don’t like too many children. Pets have to go down in the back. I said, “You may be very uncomfortable, but you should have two German Shepherds in here, and you’ve got to be there.”
I can’t imagine having a big dog and in a place in New York. It’s got to be challenging.
They do. We have dog walkers and most of the building’s doors, they’ll go down in the back entrance, and you have Central Park right across the street.
I always wonder about the amenities because in Arizona everybody’s got a pool. How do they deal with gyms, pools and all this stuff?When you get into New York, you get into paradise. Click To Tweet
Most of the buildings have gyms. Even smaller buildings. They’ll take maid’s quarters down on the basement floor or something that makes a good gym out of it. A lot of buildings don’t care. We also have Equinox who may have 97 million fine athletic clubs all over the city with anything you could imagine. People join them at 7:00 in the morning. You see the girls getting into these buildings because the gyms are there. I also see at 5:30 in the morning young ladies who must be working at banks jogging on the park side of Central Park and it’s not even light out yet. They’re all exercising and running. The city has everything to offer.
How safe is it to do that? We have Central Park joggers.
In New York on the Upper East Side especially 5th Avenue, no problem at all. The wonderful thing is number one, people are fairly cautious. If you don’t want to jog on the park side, you jog right across the street. Number two, we have doormen and elevator men all over. I woke up at 2:00 in the morning occasionally. Usually, it’s dark, but I heard a doorman waiting at night who are on 24-hour duty and you feel secure. I’m not talking about strange areas that are regenerating themselves, but it’s basically safe.
If somebody is coming to town to check out the local places if they wanted to live there. Is there a nice hotel that you think is the best place to stay? I am curious about what you prefer because I stay in the Plaza and never stayed there.
The Plaza, we sold the entire third floor, which is 18,000 square feet and they still live there. My friends at Washington who only stayed in Montana still live there and lots of other people. The Plaza is lovely. The hotel part is not big anymore. The rest of it has become condos. The Sherry-Netherland is lovely. There aren’t that many rooms. If you buy there, it’s high maintenance. The Pierre is lovely depending on which way you faced. I’m delighted to Regency, but it’s not the Regency that it used to be. It’s like an office building. It’s too contemporary. The Carlyle, the Chinese took it over. It needs work. The nice thing is The Carlyle is centered on 76th street. On 77th Street is something called The Carlyle Apartments. It’s very fine to go out.
They have all the use with a private door entering into the hotel. Other than a maid you have to pay for, you have all the facilities and it’s very low maintenance. You get a lovely eight-room apartment for $5 million, which is not bad. The Mark is getting tremendous publicity. I happened to live on that street. It’s got Anna Wintour and Lady Gaga moving over there beneath the Metropolitan Museum things. It’s very trendy if one likes that. Supposedly, the number one hotel when I read about it all the time and go get rarely is the Mandarin. The Mandarin is in the AOL Buildings. It’s by Lincoln Center. It’s not where everybody goes. Beautifully done, you have to want to be on the West Side. They have wonderful restaurants there. They have Trump International there and lots of other things. The Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South in 6th Avenue, which is lovely. The Drake is gone.
I’ve stayed at the Waldorf and I thought it was small. It wasn’t what I was expecting.
They had a few good restaurants. Other than that, it was too commercial, too heavily trafficked, few good robberies in there that they never discussed. We used to sneak up on the eighteenth floor. It was a floor that ended the big suites and lowered down and started on the main suites where they do conductors in winter and everybody stays. We used to run up the flight of stairs and go right up. Nobody ever saw us there. The St. Regis is lovely and they have a beautiful ballroom upstairs. It’s a fine hotel and is the one that Linda Wagner stayed, some hotel at 56th and 6th. You have to want a hotel eating. It’s a small boutique hotel. It’s lovely or you like a big monster lobby. I don’t like a monster lobby with 87 people walking through.
I think the room is an important thing for me, how comfortable it is and they’re digging. Everything’s old buildings.
I like big closets, a clean bathroom, a little kitchenette, and no noise.
No noise is good. That’s hard to get. I actually stayed one time in Theater District and I was so surprised how quiet it was. I thought it would be loud over there.
The best hotel in the Theater District is The Chatwal, which is where the lambs used to be and my dear friend who managed The Lowell Hotel, which is superb, small and elegant on 63rd. Majorelle, one of the finest restaurants in New York. It opened up because the brother of the people who I knew he had a fight with the other brother opened up Majorelle. It’s the most classic elegant restaurant in New York. The boy left him to open The Chatwal, which is owned by a Middle Eastern man. It was totally redone. That’s where Bette Midler stayed when she was on Broadway. A magnificent room, a superb dining room and beautiful closet. It’s on 44th Street between 6th and 7th, and it is divine and elegant. They’ve got the best umbrellas and tents too.
I’ve gone to a good restaurant, so that’s good to know. What are other good restaurants?
The most elegant restaurant would be Majorelle, which is in the Lowell Hotel and Divine. Some people still go to La Grenouille. The food is wonderful, the help is lovely, but El San Juan, it doesn’t sit where, and that’s a big mistake. If you sit somebody who’s not well dressed in front, you’ve made a mistake.
I was at Tavern On The Green. I had lunch there.
I don’t even know if that still exists anymore.
It does apparently because I was there in 2018 or maybe not. What are the iconic restaurants that everybody likes?
La Grenouille. I don’t like the new Four Seasons. I have a dear friend, Susan Magrino who does public relations. It is not what it used to be. The trendiest Bilboquet is superb. It’s like a big French bistro and it’s wonderful. Everybody is there and lots of noise, but I don’t care. What opened up, and I was there, is lovely L’Avenue, which is named after the one in Paris and it’s on the ninth floor of Saks Fifth Avenue. It’s a lovely restaurant and lovely food. With Carlyle, the food has gone down. The Mark, the food has gone down. The Sherry is okay. Unlike in Europe, hotel food in New York is never the greatest.
In London you go to Claridge’s, in Paris, you go to Plaza Athénée. In New York, there are all these little trending places. The best Chinese food in Philly. The best Italian food if you love lobster and the best lobster Crab Diablo in the world. A three-pound lobster is standard is Scalinatella. They get no publicity. It is totally packed in the basement. Lovely people there eager to eat not to table hop. Cipriani, the foods improved. It’s trendy and it’s near Bergdorf and everybody wants to go to Cipriani and get a good table. For that, it’s good. The food is okay, not wonderful.
I ate at Bergdorf for lunch a lot just because I’m shopping there.
Upstairs where the ladies are?
A ladies’ lunch place. I have seen some amazing people. Woody Allen is normal to see. He still plays the clarinet at the Carlyle.
It’s very nice, very overpriced. It’s trendy depending on who’s singing there. Elaine Stritch used to be there and it was wonderful. It depends on who they’re going. Yana Eva who’s wonderful is appearing in the Boutique thing at La Goulue which is very trendy in New York on 61st Street and she is singing there. La Goulue has a great following. It has wonderful souffles and wonderful steak tartare.
How do you stay then with all those choices?
I have one meal a day.
Do you just order dinner? Is that it?When you’re showing people some property, they have to fall in love with something. Click To Tweet
Beginning at breakfast, 2:00 in the morning. Number one, I don’t drink. Number two, I used to eat a lot of desserts. There are wonderful restaurants downtown. New York has tremendous traffic. Going downtown is like going to another city, which is wonderful. Some people love it. I would rather be uptown. Too many times is all we had, but the downtown has stayed there. The SoHo area and boutiques and art galleries are very trendy as is Greenwich Village. I don’t mind going down there with a friend if we go down quickly. I’m going to be an upper east side guy. I love The Frick. I love The Met. I’m not interested in Whitney which moved downtown. You’ve got everything uptown what you want, and you have an elegance that you don’t have downtown.
Do you go to The Met often? You’ve got all these museums. I’m just wondering, after a while.
I go to The Met for some of the exhibits and Iris Cantor is my dearest friend. She sponsors the Rodin collections at the Roof Garden. My favorite museum in the world, The Frick. Have you ever been there?
No, where is that?
It’s a block between 70th and 71st on Central Park. It was a huge benching surrounded by gardens of Henry Clay Frick who was Carnegie’s partner. It is magnificent. If you want to see a room full Turners and then Goguns and then Van Gogh, Silver, Vermeer, Rembrandts. It’s a magnificent museum. It’s got a lot of publicity. It used to be quiet with not large interior gardens and elegant. I would go there before I go to anything else anywhere. The bathrooms are clean and there’s a beautiful garden outside surrounded by gardens. The air conditioning works and family still have the use of the second and third floor. It’s the first floor that’s all this reception logs in it, drop dead. You want to go over there.
I found it interesting when you say the AC works. Is that a problem? In Arizona, if your AC doesn’t work, you’re dead. I can’t imagine.
I would imagine that anybody would want to go to a place that air conditioning didn’t work. Even when you go to Europe, they say it’s air-conditioned. The air conditioning is enough for a flea and the bathroom’s not clean. Here, they’re meticulous.
The most interesting bathrooms I’ve ever seen were in France. They had such amazing artwork and things on the doors. I’m thinking probably Nice and the French Riviera is the only place I can remember thinking. They had cool bathrooms.
Monte Carlo is finished. I believe I have friends who are ready to have gone, other than my dear friend, Ivana Trump. I’m talking about the main section. If you have a lovely house, six, four miles in the country. It’s wonderful because you go to visit when you use the facilities when you want to, but you’re going to stay. Marvea is supposedly coming back. I may go there this summer. Sardinia, it’s lovely but in the middle of a creek. You have to drive everywhere and if you don’t have a car and driver, you don’t go anywhere. Greece, depending on which island. I adore the island of Spetses, which is the royal island. It’s not big, but everybody is lovely. There’s only one magnificent hotel and that’s it. Mykonos, it’s fun if you want that whole thing. The cruise ships pull in and on and on. I don’t want to see cruise ships when I’m on vacation. I live in New York. It’s a living cruise ship.
My daughter’s actually looking at Italy to get married.
There’s only one place in Italy and I’m not sure if that’s farmland or wherever else, the Amalfi Coast. It’s magnificent and it hasn’t been ruined.
I like Taormina though in Sicily. Have you been there? I just think it’s beautiful.
I have a dear friend, a man who runs the film festival in Sicily. They have good food.
What do you think about Lake Como for a wedding?
It’s beautiful and I love Lake Garda. Lake Garda is equally beautiful. Lake Como is wonderful with lots of publicity. Italy has more beautiful things that haven’t been destroyed in any place else. Nash and I are going to the Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania. It’s lovely there. I have dear friends in Malta. They own the hotel. It’s undiscovered and beautiful. Norway is beautiful on the water. In December it’s not freezing cold and lovely. I liked Sweden to a degree, but it’s getting a little Russian. There are so many faces. We have dear America and everybody forgot. I teach a friend and they said, “The resorts in the States,” and I said, “It’s bigger than all of Europe together.” They don’t think of that, they don’t go. We have the Broadmoor, we had the homestead, we have 80 million things, hotels all over. It is beautifully done. There are lots of lands. The phones work, the banks work, the gas stations are open all the time. When you go to Europe, you got a problem.
It’s closed at lunch. I’m like, “Where did everybody go?” That’s a weird thing and they eat so late. It’s so different.
Here we have coastlines all over the place and we do have the Caribbean, which is lovely. That’s why I like Palm Beach because we’re twenty-minutes to NASA. You’re half-an-hour from Miami if you need a hospital. You’re two hours by plane to New York if you need a hospital. The planes go back and forth and it’s lovely and nice, and each one is slightly different.
Do you think you have the best doctors in New York then? You said you need a hospital. I was a pharmaceutical rep forever. I’m always curious where you think the best doctors?
I was at the Stanford Medical Center, which is superb. However, New York hospital and the hospital for special surgery, and Sloan Kettering, which all went tops. Iris is on the board of all these things and she said, “Larry, I’d rather die than go to Cedars-Sinai.” You go to UCLA Medical Center or just hire a funeral home. They killed Lucille Ball. They killed Elizabeth Taylor. They don’t know what they’re doing. They need publicity.
I actually met Elizabeth Taylor. She was quite something to see in person. She was stunning. She was with Richard Burton when I met her too.
I used to see her all the time and the Wilding boys. She was lovely and she was nice. When she was thin and she lost weight, she was going out with an Englishman. She was just a raving tearing beauty. The one who never lost her beauty until the end and was the most drop-dead thing in the world, Ava Gardner. Have you ever seen The Barefoot Contessa, the movie?
I don’t think I know.
You must google that. There’s nothing more exciting than that movie.
I think my mom has that one. I have to look that one up.
The last time I saw her because she was going out with Alicia Megan. I saw her in Spain at the bullfights. She was a North Carolina girl who drank a lot, but a raving, cherry beauty. The last time I saw her I was staying with a friend in London and I went out in her terrace and said, “Larry, there’s Ava Gardner. Why don’t you say hello? You know her.” I looked in his garden and I said, “She’s not here.” I said, “The only person I see is an old lady in a wheelchair with two nurses.” That’s Ava Gardner. She had a stroke.
It’s sad, but we’re all getting there. I am sure you’ve met some amazing people in your time doing this.Buyers are liars. They never know what they want. Click To Tweet
I went to the coronation of the queen as a little kid. There are so many royals running around. The lovely lady and Princess Diana was a friend because I met her through a friend, Chrysanthi Lemos. We sponsored a lot of her charity. When you’re young and you’re nice, you can afford it and you went to good schools. You could see everybody in the world. Everybody has public relations agents and what can you say, “What are those?” I know them and I come from under a rock, and they’re on Facebook. I never was on Facebook in my life. They rush to see a celebrity, and then they close behind him and then somebody takes a picture.
You’ve been doing these many years? That’s a long time. Are you going to keep doing this?
I love what I do. I can’t imagine anything happier, whether it’s good or whether it’s bad. You lose a deal or you make a deal. The energy bunny keeps you alive and I don’t care whether you’re a salesman or a taxi driver. If it energizes you, you’re productive and you love it, what else can you ask for in life?
I’m just curious how many hours a week do you work? Is this something that you do full-time?
My mind is always going. I could be home at 2:00 in the morning. “I know someone just died and that apartment is coming on and I remember Mrs. Carrey who lives with Ms. Sheri. She loves that building and she wants to move.”
Do you have to look at obituaries to try and find good places? Is that one of the things you do?
You used to but more or less knew who’s getting ready to croak. Some of them because of smaller apartments, but I knew when Jayne Wrightsman died, she lived on the third floor and has some good friends and eighteen rooms in the market and Mr. Douglas Dylan. You know more or less and then you know people who live nice, simple buildings. You have other friends who have kids who can only afford a six-room, two bedrooms and maids where the other kid will go, and it’s not expensive. I love what I do.
What’s not expensive?
If you could get something not in a great building but a good location and put a little work into it, two bedrooms and maids, you could probably get something for $1.6 million.
That’s how many square feet do you think?
Maybe 1,600 feet. I know where the little side street buildings, which are lovely, but nobody goes to. We have in the Berkshire Office, it’s in the listing, probably have 50, 60 brokers and they come to me all the time. “Larry, I have somebody who wants to buy a certain place.” I said, “What type of building?” Two sets in places high and has low maintenance, but it has wonderful fireplaces. It’s 20 and 30 down. One Sutton Place is magnificent but the maintenance is too high. One Beekman Place is difficult because they don’t allow brokers to have an open house and show or whatever else, so they sit there. That’s my mind. Anybody can pick my brain. I’m delighted to share information. I don’t want a piece of their commission or anything else because it gives me a thrill. If somebody is a pain in the butt, I pretend they’re a thermometer, and you know what’d you do with thermometers, please bend over.
I think it’s interesting that there is still that control where people can live. Do you think that we’re going to see a change of that?
It’s the same thing. There are two or three buildings in San Francisco. We’re very much the same. They’ve changed their leaders. Quite frankly, they were religious problems in certain buildings and other things, those are gone. They’re selective about who the people are, but religion doesn’t entertain it. A foreigner is only to the degree that they must have money in the States.
It’s a different world. It’s almost back in time. We don’t see a lot of that here in Arizona.
With the condominiums they build, they don’t know where the money came from, but there were billions and billions. All of a sudden, they bought something and then the government said they’re cracked down at these apartments sitting empty and nobody’s paying the maintenance. They become bankruptcies.
It’s a different market for sure because it’s like a whole other country when you’re there. You feel like you’ve gone to Europe or something.
You are in townhouses and something people love townhouses. They can be from twelve feet wide right up in 50 feet wide with a private garden and you can do whatever you want and put it in your swimming pool in the whole routine. You have the same locations. You don’t have the security of an apartment house, but you don’t care. You have your own guard. Townhouses are lovely. People with kids would love it because they have their own little garden at the back and you can make any renovation you want to, except on the front. On the front where landmark, the inside you can have check answers all night. Nobody cares.
It’s an interesting thing to do for so long and I appreciate you sharing your experiences. I want to look out some of these restaurants and some of the stuff we talked about. I appreciate you sharing all that. I think a lot of people probably want to know how they could reach you. Is there a website or someplace that you want to share for them to contact you?
My email is AlKaiser4TH@AOL.com. It’s fun to share information because people have been so good to me. When I was going to Shanghai, it was only because I was introduced to the lovely people that I knew where to go. You’re in a strange city and by the time you’re ready to leave, they told you all the good things to go to. I believe in that and I happen to love New York. I wasn’t born here, but I adore it and it’s a different world.
I appreciate you sharing all that.
Arizona is so exciting.
It’s not quite as exciting as New York, but I love it here. I’m a native from here.
You have shopping centers.
Hopefully, anybody who was interested in New York will find out quite a bit from this. It was so nice for you to be on the show.
When are you coming?
I’m going to do the Forbes Women’s Summit. I’m flying in and out. I’m going to be one night there because I have so much travel and other things, I’m giving so many talks. I can’t stay very long this time, but I’ll stay longer the next time. I love New York.
If you want to see the tree, the best thing is to go to Saks Fifth Avenue on the sixth floor, which is across the street because that all face the tree and you have no crowds and you have bathrooms.
That’s a good tip. Thank you for being my guest, Larry.
I’d like to thank Larry for being my guest. If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can catch them all at DrDianeHamiltonRadio.com and I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
- Laurance Kaiser IV
- Dr. Gilda Carle – Past episode
- Berkshire Hathaway
- Susan Magrino
About Laurance Kaiser IV
A true icon in New York real estate, 51-year veteran Larry Kaiser is quite likely the longest-practicing residential broker in the city, or as he jokingly puts it, “the last survivor.” During his illustrious career, he has watched markets rise and fall, and he’s seen neighborhoods emerge in places people wouldn’t dare to live just a decade ago, all while earning enviable accolades.
Famous for breaking the one-million-dollar mark in both townhouse and co-op sales, he politely demurs at the mention of his long track record of success. “They call me a legend, but I don’t know what that means. Maybe in my own mind,” he laughs.