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The flashy Shvo has precious few friends in the business, but he still ranks as the most in-demand real estate marketer in town.


Born in Israel, Shvo arrived in New York in 1996 with, he says, a total of $3,000 in his pocket and no idea how he was going to get by. He spent his first months in the city managing a fleet of taxis before turning to real estate and joining Douglas Elliman in 1998. Hyperambitious and tireless (and prone to hyperbole), Shvo says he started showing as many 40 rentals a day to prospective clients, renting a total of 300 apartments his first 365 days on the job. His rise at the brokerage was nothing short of meteoric: Within a few years he was racking up $300 million a year in property sales in buildings like the Trump World Tower and the Time Warner Center and managing an in-house staff of 27; he also formed a lucrative partnership with veteran Elliman superagent Dolly Lenz.

Ultimately, however, he alienated just about every colleague—including Lenz, who resorted to locking her office to prevent him from stealing clients—and he left Elliman in 2004 amid controversy. Whether the brash broker went of his own accord or was fired is still debated, but there was certainly no love lost on either side. According to Elliman co-founder Howard Lorber: "When Michael Shvo left, there was not a wet eye in the company." Shvo started his own marketing firm, Shvo Marketing, soon after.

Of note

Shvo's part of a new breed of real estate marketer who employs the sort of glossy branding and tool-filled launch parties usually reserved for high-end fashion products. His target market: wealthy professionals in their 20s, 30s and 40s—or "greenbloods" as Shvo calls them—who will respond to his slick pitch of Armani interiors, Viking and Sub-Zero equipped kitchens, and building amenities like wine cellars and movie theaters. While Shvo may not generate much goodwill among his peers in the biz, he doesn't seem to have any trouble finding developers to contract his services. He's been hired to market a long list of high-end condo developments, including the Philippe Starck-designed 15 Broad (which was converted into condos by fellow Israelis Lev Leviev and Shaya Boymelgreen), the Bryant Park Tower, the Lumiere, and Boymelgreen's 20 Pine (where sales have been weak despite Shvo utilizing every trick in his book including a 24/7 sales office, an "exclusive" launch party, and the imprimatur of a brand-name designer). In New York, his current assignments include the Starck-designed Gramercy, developer Joseph Moinian's upcoming W Hotel on Washington Street, and Vornado's 650 Fifth Avenue. But ever relentless, Shvo is increasingly active on the international level: he's marketing a shiny new hotel-condo on Mexico's Mayan Riviera, and he's staffing up a newly created Shvo Marketing outpost in Dubai.


Shvo has a long list of enemies in the industry, many of whom have spoken publicly about their distaste for his tactics. "In my twenty years in this business, I have never seen one man inspire such across-the-board loathing," Corcoran chief Pam Liebman once told New York. As a broker, Shvo routinely poached clients from colleagues and was uncooperative about co-brokering apartments. Following one such incident—he met with a real estate developer Charles Yassky even though another agent, Barrie Mandel, was Yassky's building's exclusive broker—Shvo was slapped with a REBNY-mandated 90-minute ethics course. As the head of his own firm, he's continued to alienate people left and right, and Shvo Marketing suffers an extremely high turnover rate as a result. One particularly egregious act of employer cruelty he's committed: He fired an employee, Stacia Banta, ten days after a motorcycle struck her and killed her unborn baby, "because she would be unable to take prospective customers' coats or get them coffee"; she later sued Shvo for "human rights violations" and settled out of court.

In person

You won't find the born salesman (and classically-trained pianist) in jeans and t-shirt. If you're going to sell expensive real estate you have to look expensive, too, and Shvo plays the part with Brioni suits and $800 Louis Vuitton shoes. A Diet Coke addict—he used to drink 40 cans a day, but now he's down to 10—Shvo and his multiple cell phones and Blackberrys get around town in a black Mercedes limo.


Shvo is engaged to Laura Poretzky, the designer of the fashion line Abaete. The owner of several apartments at the Grand Millennium and 15 Broad, Shvo's primary residence is on the 68th floor apartment of Time Warner Center; he paid $6.5 million for the apartment in 2005. (He claims to own 35 other apartments in the city in all, although that assertion smacks of the hyperbole for which he's notorious.) He purchased a four-bedroom house in Water Mill in 2007 for $3.75 million—it's one block away from his one-time nemesis, Dolly Lenz.