Where do I begin?
I mean, I was just innocently minding my own business and taking a break from typing, so I checked out LA OBSERVED and found one of my old clients - Jeff Greene! - headlining... LAO!
To my astonishment, Jeff just got married (after more near misses than a foggy LAX runway) and his wedding is being heralded as the wedding of the year - and he is now a billionaire (and only that last statement is not a surprise).
Now for a number of years I sold Jeff property in Malibu and I still have numerous battle scars to prove it. (Not counting the ones Larry Taylor, Nat Najjar and the King of Ramirez Canyon, Mark Cirlin, and his arch rival, Don Henley. left on me - and don't get me on the subject of Donald Sterling and that freaking beach house probate....)
Now working with Jeff was a real pleasure in that he was one of the brightest people I have ever known. Absolutely brilliant. He started out buying triple deckers in Boston while he attended Harvard and made his first fortune while still in school.
He was also one of the toughest negotiators and most infuriating clients (not that my always opinionated self was always exactly a walk in the park) and one of the most demanding people to work with I have ever known. He went through so many aides, I finally had to recruit a major domo for him ( Hi, Steve!) who was both bright enough and tough enough to work for him.
I also regularly fired Jeff as a client (he always had one of three complaints - either I was not finding him enough to buy - or I was selling him too much, or, my favorite, I would refuse to sell him something he really wanted because I thought the property... sucked) - not that he ever seemed to notice he had been fired - and he may have even fired me one once or twice but we always ended up working together again... until the day I just... vanished.... (with no word to anyone) from Malibu for good after my mother finally passed and I turned my part time residence in Downtown to a full time status in 1998.
Jeff was the only client I ever had who could actually see what was going to happen - and who could understand with me that we were about to head into a real estate boom far beyond anything we had ever seen in the past. Everyone else said I was crazy when I told them what I saw coming at - and after all the land I had sold builders, I knew if I did not get out of Malibu before all those houses got built, I'd be selling houses for the rest of my life. So after I sold more land to builders than any agent in Malibu, and just as they were starting to build those houses - I left.
But before I left, I had one thing I wanted to leave behind me; an example of what Malibu could be - my own case study project - a series of environmentally sensitive, spec homes that fit into landscape and were designed by the finest upcoming contemporary architects. And Jeff hired every one of those architects I brought to him. One year, GA Projects even published several of those homes - with two of them designed by Lorcan O'Herlihy and I had worked so closely on them with Lorcan, Lorcan even did me the honor of putting my name on the design team.
But, alas, the new city of Malibu - then run by morons and idiots - did everything they could to stop people from building single family homes on existing single family lots, and so almost none of those homes ever got built (though I think a Jeff Daniels house got built on PCH in Santa Monica) and on those sites today mostly sit - ugly red tile stucco boxes.
And more after Kevin's story....
L.A. wedding of the year
Real-estate developer Jeffrey Greene, one of L.A.'s least-public billionaires, and New York real-estate executive Mei Sze Chan were married last weekend at his 27-acre Beverly Hills estate. Columnists Rush and Molloy had a one-graf item in this morning's New York Daily News, listing guests Hugh Hefner, Owen Wilson, Heidi Fleiss, Oliver Stone, Michael Bay, Russell Simmons and Tara Reid and mentioning a 16-foot-tall cake, 17-member orchestra and revolving dance floor in Greene's 24-car garage.
Mike Tyson— yes, the boxer—was best man. I've got a few more details to add. The wedding supposedly cost $1 million to put on. The 280 guests included lawyer Robert Shapiro, Clippers' owner Donald Sterling, Tao owner Mark Packer and the Earl of Dartmouth, who flew in from London. So who are the happy couple? Greene is 52, Chan is 32. They reportedly met last year while Greene was in New York for Tyson's 40th birthday.
Publicity shy in the past, Greene appears to be coming out a bit. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and L.A. Times all had a presence at the nuptials and may have stories in the works, I'm told.
The only part I am NOT surprised about is Jeff's choice of Mike Tyson as his best man. Jeff must have wanted the only person alive who would be even more dangerous to face in a dark conference room than he is.
So congratulations to Jeff and to your new bride! And may you soon be blessed with many little Greenes!
And remember what I told you over ten years ago - starting in 1996 - long before Tom Gilmore bought his first building Downtown? Remember how I begged you to buy all those empty office buildings Downtown back in the 1990's - but you wouldn't even go look at them?
Because if you had followed my final free advice to you, you'd be worth another billion or two.
But you still have a second chance at that extra billion.
Because after the current market slowdown stops - the real boom is doing to hit Downtown. And it will be a boom far, far beyond anything this city has ever seen.
But you'll have to find another real estate broker to work with you this time because - that's not what this cowboy does any more.