In the fourth episode of “Million Dollar Listing New York,” the Three Beasts of the Dark Wood — Fredrik Eklund, Ryan Serhant and Luis Ortiz – lead us down a shadowy, winding path from which we may never return. What we once feared most — the bubble bursting [God forbid] — has been replaced by something far worse: Nine figurative floors without an elevator or central air.
Surely the end is nigh for NYC real estate. What else can explain $40 million penthouses, pocket squares used as devices of torture, babies’ footsteps, $100k building models, and flying shoes?
No matter. To these three, being stuck in the Inferno — Dante’s elaborate depiction of Hell — would merely be an opportunity to sell untapped property without having to co-broke. We hear space by the entrance to the Ninth Circle is going for an eternal soul per square foot — no views, of course.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here:
1) Limbo: Luis is feverishly trying to garner the $7.8 million he promised to the Milstein Properties’ head, Janet, by showing the unit three times a day for months. After his fairytale event, he gets an offer for $7.1 million, which is $100,000 higher than the in-house sales team has priced it. Yet, Janet was not happy and refused the offer. Wearing a red dress and a devilish smirk on her face, she alerts him that his soul reputation is at stake and explains this is business, not personal. He is left wondering if he can make this deal happen… Months pass without an offer. Will he experience the heaven of closing the deal or the hell of losing the exclusive? Only time will tell.
2) Lust: Fredrik meets with Zach Vella, developer extraordinaire, about a sexy, 18-unit building he is having constructed in Tribeca. Fredrik eagerly notes that they are all really “Big units!” and the twelve year old boy in us all collectively giggles. But the real lust happens when Zach tells Fredrik the penthouse will be priced at a whopping $40M and Fredrik notes the place has a $180 million sellout with the potential for $5M in commission! Fredrik, who fortunately is wearing a hard hat, bangs his head on a column because deals of this sort hurt so good. He explains he has, “goose bumps all the way down these long, Swedish legs.”
3) Gluttony: “Some brokers just show up to chit chat and drink a lot of [free] alcohol,” explains Fredrik at an event he holds in Zach’s apartment to show off his $100,000 building model to the brokerage community. The laser-cut model — think Barbie’s Dream Home, assuming Barbie was a very well-kept NYC trophy wife — can fit on a dinner table but costs more than many actual homes in other parts of the U.S. Even Freddy balks at the price tag and comments on how the model is something like $5,000 per square inch. When drinking glasses in Zach’s immaculate home get broken by some rowdy guests, Fredrik fears Zach might break also, so he hurriedly shoos away brokers who have gone rogue and are sitting in Zach’s empty tub, gluttonously guzzling champagne.
4) Greed: Ryan is back in his continuing quest to try to sell his overly-emo seller’s Midtown East penthouse for the bloated price of $6.5 million. He tries to reason with her and explain that one could buy a similar apartment nearby for $600 per square feet less. She won’t back down, and Ryan stoically states, “Working with an emotional woman is a test of courage.” When he finally gets a lowball offer of $5.8 million and must go to seller Samantha with the bid, she says she will not counter. It’s $6.5 million or she will simply rent it out. Ryan tries to explain to the testy buyer’s broker that everywhere Samantha looks in her apartment she sees the place her babies were raised, “she sees [her] babies’ footsteps….” And those footsteps have a price of $6.5 million. When asked how many footsteps that would be, Ryan answers without a beat, “about 500,000.” When he returns with a $6 million offer, the seller pulls the unit off the market. Game over.
5) Anger: Ryan takes some much needed personal time off to attend a couples cooking class with his girlfriend, Emelia. She’s miffed because he’s running late and not there for the start of the class. As she is forced to measure out ingredients for biscuits alone, he arrives, disrupting the class and inciting eye rolls from the teacher. Ever the charmer, he counters with, “My ball is way better than your ball.” as she smiles, mushing her biscuit dough clearly wishing it was his face. Emelia then begins to seethe when his phone rings mid-mix. She looks incredulous as he rushes out to take the call. When another call comes through just minutes later, and he leaves her alone yet again, she stops speaking to him.
6) Heresy: The downside to Zach requiring Fredrik to sell his new Tribeca development mid-construction has Fredrik explaining this just isn’t done. People want to see actual walls. And even with the high priced model Fredrik thinks this will be a hard sell and decides to hold the announcement trumpeting the $40 million penthouse for when the building is further along. Still, Zach may not be the heretic we first thought, because when Fredrik sets up shop in Zach’s living room, he makes $100 million in sales in just two short weeks. “Call me crazy, but I sometimes think I was put on this Earth to close deals,” he exclaims, just before he kicks with glee sending his shoe flying across the room.
7) Violence: When Ryan shows up at the event Luis is holding to promote his Milstein exclusive and tries to woo business away from him by approaching Janet, Luis confronts him. Both get mouthy. Luis drops four F-bombs in quick secession and says, “I will break your teeth.” When Ryan responds, “ Reach high” and the racially charged retort, “It is so hard to understand you when you speak so fast,” Luis sees red and immediately throws Ryan’s pocket square on the floor. We know they mean business because there is lots of really disconcerting lip licking from both. Luis growls, “I’m going to punch this guy’s teeth inside his throat,” but the brouhaha culminates when Ryan shoves the aforementioned pocket square down Luis’ and gets ushered out.
8) Fraud: When four months have passed, and Luis has yet to get an accepted offer from Janet, she explains to him she is terminating their exclusive agreement. Even though it was for six months, the fine print—there is always fine print—says “six months with an out.” She opts out because she says he did not deliver on what he promised. “The number one rule of real estate in New York is to not discuss Real Estate Club when you say something, you have to deliver,” Janet imparts. Luis, of the ‘fake-it-till-you-make-it’ mindset, is shattered when she calls him out for being a fraud who did not deliver what he claimed he could. “I made a mistake; I overpromised to Janet and overpriced…” he says emotionally. “It’s about the bigger picture, the relationship with someone so powerful … someone you want to prove yourself to. It breaks me.” When she says he has disappointed her, we see that the earlier man-against-man battle with Ryan pales compared to this bigger one of man against himself.
9) Treachery: Luis officially moves into his Douglas Elliman office as Fredrik is roaming the halls. While Fredrik feels like this is the beginning of a bro-mance, Luis tells the camera it is more of a no-mance. Fredrik tries to bond by dishing about their mutual hatred of Ryan and nosily inquires about what happened at Luis’ recent event. When Luis explains that Ryan tried to sneakily steal his Milstein exclusive away by cozying up to Janet, Fredrik takes comfort in that Ryan’s treachery is not just always aimed at him. Luis says of Fredrik that he may “forgive but doesn’t forget” so easily and feels that Fredrik is being condescending to him. Fredrik wants them to take arms again Ryan, but Luis prefers to just set up his office.
After watching this episode, we surmise that there may be a lesser known Tenth Circle, specifically for those in the real estate industry. We hear the rent is high, the amenities are nil and the lease is unbreakable.