Joe Kernen Settles a Bet, Plus the Return of Michael Wolff

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1003_mockup.gifThreats of yet another winter storm (We’re begging for mercy!) didn’t keep the faithful from Michael’s today. In fact, the dining room was even more crowded than usual as some of the city’s biggest hot shots cooled their heels at the bar and in the lounge as they waited to be seated among the power brokers and media mavens. There was plenty of air kisses and glad handing among the talking heads (Joe Kernen, Rosanna Scotto), television titans (Matt Blank, Henry Schleiff) and fashionable folk (Julie Macklowe). After all, what’s the point of having a power lunch in this town if the right people aren’t there to see it — or write about it? Happy to oblige.

PR maven extraordinaire Catherine Saxton, who has represented some of Manhattan’s most well known swells (and how do you think they got that way?) invited me to join an eclectic and energetic group for lunch today. I was seated between Khashy Eyn and Daniel Hedaya of Platinum Properties and nearly got whiplash as I listened to these real estate wunderkinds regale me with tales of their incredible success since launching their firm in 2005. (Khashy, the firm’s CEO and co-founder, is 31 and Daniel, the president, is all of 26.)  Khashy, who has been in real estate since he was a teenager, came to the United States from Iran when his family fled during the revolution. Daniel, who grew up in Great Neck, dropped out of culinary school before landing a job at a boutique brokerage firm.  Khashy and his sister, co-founder and COO Dezireh Eyn (“The brains of the operation,” says Khashy), launched the company and later tapped Daniel to join them.

(Left to Right) Daniel Hedaya, Diane Clehane, Khashy Eyn, Christian Giovanni Curato, Catherine Saxton and Vicki Downey

Daniel, who will appear in episode seven of  the new season of HG-TV’s Selling New York, told me high rollers and regular folk get the same stellar treatment from the firm.  “Whether our company is working with a client looking for a $2,500 rental or someone selling a $50 million property, we provide the same level of service. It is very important to us that everyone of our clients receive the same high level of concierge service from us. Manhattan real estate is unlike other markets in the country where the agents handle so many parts of a transaction. Here, we sell or rent the property, negotiate the deal and turn it over to an attorney. But many of our clients want us to handle everything and we do.”

Platinum Properties, which first catered to the post-9/11 residential market in lower Manhattan, has morphed into a leader in the luxury sector in both residential and commercial properties worldwide. Following Manhattan real estate is something of a sport among the well-heeled set, and I was fascinated by all the talk of millionaire and billionaire all-cash deals. Daniel tells me that sales all over the city are “outrageous” right now and, due to an increased demand and limited inventory, the rental market is “the best it’s ever been.” (And you thought there was still a bit of a recession going on, didn’t you?) Last year, Khashy was responsible for selling the most expensive piece of Miami real estate, the home of the heir to the Birkenstock fortune which the sole man purchased for $9.9. It sold to an “international buyer” for $25 million. Khashy closed the all-cash deal in 36 hours.

Things are hopping for Platinum Properties here in New York City with luxury residential buildings on 57th Street, as well as properties like the Baccarat Building, a luxury hotel and condo tower. There is, says the guys, a voracious appetite for Manhattan properties among Londoners, the Chinese and other Asians,  as well as with the Canadians,  although they tend to fly under the radar a bit more with their purchases. In Miami, it’s the Brazilians, Mexicans and South Americans with deep pockets buying up most luxury real estate. “No matter what happens in real estate in these markets, there are more billionaires than there are luxury properties to buy,” says Khashy. We should have such problems.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. A table full of folks presided over by Ben Lambert of East Hill Real Estate and celebrating a birthday with cupcakes (no one seemed to know just who was blowing out the candles). We recognized uber agent Esther Newberg among the revelers, but couldn’t place the rest of the gang. Anyone?

2. Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and David Zinczenko, whose victorious return to magazines as contributing editorial director at American Media Inc.’s Men’s Fitness and plans for the launch of his own Galvanize Media, are chronicled in today’s WWD. Maybe it’s “Dave’s Health,” after all.

4. CNBC’s Joe Kernen and former UBS executive Robert Wolf, who now helms his own consulting firm, 32 Advisors. Joe tells me he was picking up the tab for today’s lunch with President Barack Obama‘s golfing buddy to settle “a gentleman’s bet” over the election.

5. Sony Pictures Television’s Steve Mosko and comedy legend Jerry Stiller

6. Catherine SaxtonKhashy Eyn, Daniel Hedaya, Christian Giovanni Curato, Vicki Downeychief of staff of the North American regional office of the Mountbatten Institute and national president of The Daughters of the British Empire (Aren’t you impressed?) and yours truly

7. DuJour‘s Jason Binn

8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia and Paxton Quigley

9. Discovery ID’s Henry Schleiff, who was spotted here earlier in the week with Joan Rivers

10. NBC Universal Cable’s Bonnie Hammer

11. Showtime’s head honcho, Matt Blank, and Penske Media’s vice chair, Gerry Byrne

12. Abernathy  & MacGregor’s Jim Abernathy

14. Gannett’s Maryam Banikarim and journo Michael Wolff, now a columnist for The Guardian, who famously vowed several years ago never to return to Michael’s after being seated at a table other than his then regular perch at Table 5. It seems all is forgiven as the notoriously prickly scribe has been spotted in the dining room about once a month since late last year. He’ll have to do better than that if he has any hopes of reclaiming such prime real estate in the front room, though.

15. Mark Rosenthal

16. Lanky Luke Janklow

81. PR princess Lisa Linden with Suri Kasirer, who was once again ranked as the city’s top lobbyist by the city clerks office as reported by Crain’s. Congrats!

17. Fox 5 News gal Rosanna Scotto (Looking ab fab in lavendar) and Jack Abernathy

18. Mitch Kanner

19. Scalamandre president Steven Stolman with textiles and interior designer Caroline Rafferty

20. The absolutely ageless Jeanine Pirro (Love the new ‘do!) with a bespectacled fellow we didn’t get to meet

21. Former New York City council president Andrew Stein

82. The always dapper Richard Bressler

22. Fashionista and V Beaute’s founder Julie Macklowe

24. Gordon Davis, who’s on the board of Jazz at Lincoln Center (Just thought you’d like to know)

25. PR maestro Tom Goodman with Elle Decor contributing editor Bettina Zilkha

26. Barry Frey and  ex-CBS exec Jim Rosenfield

28. Wednesday Martin 

29. The Wall Street Journal‘s David Sanford and Lewis Steinwho were continuing the week-long celebration of David’s 70th birthday. I met David in this very dining room several years ago, and he’s come to be one of my very favorite Michael’s regulars. I always look forward to our weekly chats about the events of the day and our guiltiest of pleasures, Bravo’s Real Housewives‘ franchise. Decked out in his fashionable flaming red eyeglasses for the occasion, David mused on his age, “I think it’s a great achievement having reached 70 when you think of all the things that can befall you in this life.” Quite. And David has been feted with all the appropriate fanfare by his WSJ colleagues: balloons, flowers and a big birthday cake in the newsroom earlier in the week. Sir, we salute you!

Faces in the crowd: NBC Universal’s Patricia Fili Krushel and Fortune‘s Patty Sellers deep in conversation  …  TV Guide acting CEO Jack Kliger and Self publisher Laura McEwen at separate tables in the Garden Room … Accessories maven Mickey Ateyeh, who is hosting a VIP lunch for jewelry designer Angela Cummings at Michael’s next month … And my pals “The Bar-ettes,” Kira Semler and Vi Huse, who ventured in from New Jersey (Nor’easter be damned!) for their monthly champagne lunch at the bar. The ladies introduced me to Sophia Krage of Premier Mortgage who told me she had to stop in and check out the scene after reading about the Wednesday goings-on in this month’s Gotham. Thanks for the kind words, Gary Walther. See you next week!

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