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
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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.