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'Million Dollar Listing New York' Recap: Arguments and Andy Warhol

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This week's Million Dollar Listing New York is all about conflict (duh) and creatively selling homes

The sales gallery at 1 Great Jones Alley
Will Femia

It's Season 5 of Million Dollar Listing New York, where three brokers, Fredrik Eklund, Luis Ortiz, and Ryan Serhant, show the world what it takes to sell high-priced New York City apartments. Angela Bunt is on vacation this week, but we're recapping anyway! Episode air date: 5/26/2016.

Confession: I've never seen an episode of Million Dollar Listing New York before this week, so we're all going on an adventure together here. To the recap!

Luis

Last week's episode ended with Luis getting chewed out by Elliman chairman Howard Lorber over a sale at 111 Murray. Luis's client, if you'll recall, wants to buy in the building but wasn't willing to pay the schedule A price for the apartment he wanted; but once Luis finally got him on board, the price for the apartment went up five percent. Oops. Luis wants Lorber to help him get the developer, Steve Witkoff, back on board with the original $13.5 million ask, which Lorber balks at. "There’s no way the developer is going to discount one of the first units he sells," he scoffs. But he tells Luis that if he's willing to meet with Witkoff in person to plead his case, he'll make the call. Game on.

111 murray model
The $400,000 model of 111 Murray Street
Courtesy Bravo

What follows is a display of what can only be described as extreme thirstiness: Witkoff calls Luis, hoping to get the details on this bad deal over the phone; Luis insists that they meet in person, which Witkoff rebuffs with an excuse for every night, including a Brooklyn Nets game. Luis pounces, feigning interest in the team in order to get in front of Witkoff. (What happens when the developer sees the episode later?)

At the game, Luis continues to be thirsty, texting Lorber in an effort to get into the real estate bigwigs' private suite. Lorber finally relents, and Luis is off to make his pitch. But Witkoff is unimpressed. "We’re not going to get to a deal," he tells the eager broker. Luis then makes the mistake of saying that this deal isn't about money, and is quickly smacked down by Lorber, who seems to enjoy scolding one of his brokers like a disappointed dad would. What follows is a pretty embarrassing exchange that ends with, finally, the developer relenting. "If he agrees to sign tomorrow we have a deal," Witkoff says. Success! Luis is so excited he kisses Lorber's bald head.

Back at his apartment, Luis pours himself a drinks and fist-pumps in celebration, but something isn't right. "Everything feels so exciting … but it’s so quiet at the same time," he says. He wants a girlfriend, awww. "I’m in love with a person that I don’t know," he explains tearfully. The sentiment is sweet, but the wording is a little, uh, weird.

Ryan

Ryan's entire arc in this episode is a push-pull with Amy, another broker with whom he has a, shall we say, complicated relationship. "I would describe Amy as the B-word … bossy," he tells the camera. "What'd you think I was going to say?" (Maybe she doesn't like him because of stuff like this? But I digress.)

Ryan's on his way to the Jade, a schmancy building in the Flatiron District (it's the "entire area around the Flatiron Building," don'tcha know), to meet with Sherif, who bought the penthouse at 52 Cooper Square a few episodes ago. Sherif wants Ryan to help sell his current place, a 3,894-square-foot duplex penthouse atop the Jade. Ryan's wearing his shiniest pinstriped suit for the occasion, but Amy, who's Sherif's regular broker, is unimpressed. "You need to remember that I was here first," she tells Ryan.

The penthouse at the Jade

The big conflict arises when it comes to pricing: Amy thinks the apartment can net $4,000 per square foot, or around $16 million; Ryan balks, and thinks it should be priced around $12 million. Amy is pissed, and refuses to entertain that pricing. But the client, sensing that Ryan may be right (because, hey, softening market for luxury apartments and all that), agrees to $12.995 million.

The next disagreement comes over an open house for the apartment; Ryan has lots of ideas, and goes to Amy's daughter's daycare (why?!?) to make his pitches. Amy shoots them all down, and suggests an open house for luxury real estate CEOs around the country, to show off "the number one place to be in New York." It's suspiciously close to Ryan's idea to get "the top people of industry" to the apartment, and he looks like he wants to murder her. "She should be kind of honored to get to work with me," he preens. Okie dokie.

The open house happens, no one bites, and Ryan convinces Sherif to price the apartment at $10 million. Amy is pissed, again, because it's "absolutely, 100 percent, never okay to speak to the person I bring to your table without me, ever." Even if the drama is manufactured, it's hard not to be on her side—especially after Ryan pulls the "you're a mom and hard to get in touch with" card. But hey, the apartment is in contract, so he must have done something right.

Fredrik

Fredrik has the episode's most entertaining shenanigans, which revolve entirely around his new listing: the luxury condo at 1 Great Jones Alley, which longtime Curbed readers will remember as the former home of a flea market that fronted Broadway. Fredrik is going to the sales gallery next door to the construction site to meet with Dan Cobleigh of Madison Realty Capital, the building's developer. "When I go into an environment like this I get aroused," Fredrik says upon entering the sales gallery, which is mid-completion but has plenty of renderings of the building.

Rendering of the lobby at 1 Great Jones Alley
Rendering via BKSK Architects

Dan drops a bomb on Fredrik: They want to break the record sales price per square foot—specifically, they want these apartments to hit $3,000 per square foot, and they think Fredrik is the guy to do it because of his success at The Schumacher. They agree to start at $2,850 per square foot, which gets Fredrik thinking. "Dan wants record prices, so I need to go big, like outrageously big," he exclaims.

What that means: a party at the model unit that plays off the neighborhood's artistic history, with photos of artists who lived in the area—Keith Haring, Basquiat, and Andy Warhol—placed throughout. "I think real estate and art is a really good marriage," he says, because the same folks who'll shell out millions of dollars on a painting are the same people who'll pay outrageous amounts of money for a Manhattan apartment. Eric, the slightly rumpled owner of the gallery above the model unit, agrees to let Fredrik use some original artwork in the model unit.

But that's not enough—Fredrik wants to go even bigger. Which, apparently, means dressing up like Andy Warhol for the launch party. Yes, really.

Jordan, Fredrik's trusty assistant, is at the launch party and is freaking out (people freak out on this show a lot, it seems) because Fredrik hasn't arrived. But once he does, he's gone full Method, channeling his best approximation of Warhol (which includes a terrible wig and a vaguely European accent, apparently) as he mingles with partygoers and spouts botched versions of Warholian aphorisms. But the gambit works, somehow: by the end of the party, Fredrik has sold four apartments, or 25 percent of the building.

But developer Dan isn't happy: he thinks they're selling the apartments for too low a price. "They’re flying off the shelf because they’re too cheap," he says, and blasts out an email raising the price during a meeting with Fredrik. Poor Freddy is aghast, and worried that people will be angry once they find out the price points have changed from what he was originally selling. But Dan won't be deterred: "You are my broker," he says. "You've gotta do what we tell you to do." Ouch.

That's a wrap on this week, folks—stay tuned for next week, when Angela Bunt is back with her usual hilarious recaps.