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Cave heads up the society real estate brokerage Edward Lee Cave Inc., which has provided co-ops to the Park Avenue set for over two decades.


The son of a Virginia Volkswagen dealer, Cave had his first gig out of Columbia helping the design doyen Albert Hadley redecorate the Kennedy White House. Cave went on to put his fine arts major and Picasso expertise to use hawking art at Sotheby's, where he was the first American to reach a senior position with the British company. His first taste of the real estate game came in 1968, when he bought a Manhattan apartment building with his father's help; he later sold it during the mid-'70s housing bust for a measly $5,000 profit. In 1976 he helped set up Sotheby's real estate arm, Sotheby's International Realty, which he built into a $200 million-a-year business within five years. Six years later he split off and hung out his own shingle.

Cave made an early splash as a broker by selling film producer Dino de Laurentis' Beverly Hills mansion for a then-record sum, but his bread-and-butter has always been the Upper East Side. In 2002 he announced a partnership with Brown Harris Stevens, a larger firm with a generally less high-end clientele, which he viewed as a good complement to his boutique firm. These days, the nearly septuagenarian Cave mainly oversees the offices of Edward Lee Cave, Inc. and the firm's 25 brokers, as opposed to showing properties himself.

Of note

Although his firm sells property throughout the United States and Europe, it specializes in multi-million dollar co-ops on Park and Fifth Avenues and Central Park West. Cave says his clients are so wealthy, not a single one has ever needed a mortgage. And don't expect to see him advertising online, either; Cave says he and his brokers travel in the same elite circles as their clientele and operate primarily through personal connections: "We either know them socially, we went to school with them, or we once were married to them," he's said.

Notable clients have included Sting, Billy Joel, banking heir Randy Lerner (the son of MBNA founder Al Lerner), and Saul Steinberg, whose apartment at 740 Park the brokerage sold for a then-record $37 million to Steve Schwarzman in 2000. More recently, in August 2007, Cave Inc. convinced Edgar Bronfman Jr. to put down $20 million to purchase a spread at 1040 Fifth Avenue. But Cave isn't just known for his deals: He's also a legend in the business for having groomed a generation of top-tier real brokers—his former pupils include Dolly Lenz and the late Linda Stein.

True story

Former president Richard Nixon was at one point interested in purchasing a Manhattan co-op and had his attorney contact Cave for advice. Cave urged him to avoid stepping in front of a co-op board and advised him to seek out a private home instead.


Cave is a widower and lives on Park Avenue. An inveterate green thumb—he's been gardening since the 6th grade—he also has a weekend home in Union, Connecticut.

No joke

Cave must be a Monopoly fan: He says he always carries two crisp $100 bills in his wallet.