Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Putting It Together: The Artist as Deal Maker - New York Times

The interesting rise of Scott Latham as told by Alison Gregor

Today he and his team of brokers at Cushman & Wakefield are involved in some of the most notable building sales around. His team’s biggest transaction was just last month: the sale of 666 Fifth Avenue for $1.8 billion. In 2005, the group worked on the $1.72 billion sale of the MetLife Building at 200 Park Avenue.

Mr. Latham, now 48 and an executive director at the company, says his past work life helped to build character as well as guide his approach to real estate today.

“If you’re going out fishing, you don’t want to catch the little things,” he said. “You want to catch something bigger and bigger, because it’s satisfying. And it’s more challenging.”

Colleagues and associates say they think that Mr. Latham brings rare abilities to the job.

“He’s got a great personality, and I’m sure that the eclectic experiences that he’s had in his life are part of that,” said Rob Speyer, a senior managing director at Tishman Speyer Properties. Tishman sold 666 Fifth Avenue in partnership with Pramerica Property Funds to Kushner Properties with Mr. Latham’s assistance.

Richard Baxter, another executive director at Cushman & Wakefield, who has known Mr. Latham for a decade and worked with him for the last three years, says his colleague “knows where to go to fish, and that’s the ability that Scott brings that very few brokers have.”

But it is the experience of creating a deal, not just ushering one along, that excites Mr. Latham. He said he has been particularly proud of some of his smaller building sales handled “off market,” meaning that the property was never listed for sale.

Mr. Latham handled such a transaction in 2004 with the $675 million sale of the landmark Plaza Hotel. He said that he recognized that the owners of the Plaza at the time, a partnership of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia and Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, might be willing to sell the hotel if the right offer came along. He then approached El-Ad Properties, a company specializing in condominium conversions. That same year, in fact, Mr. Latham had convinced the owner of the Gift Building at 225 Fifth Avenue, Green Stamp America of Japan, to sell to El-Ad Properties.

Mr. Latham says the creation of a real estate deal is “a similar process to creating artwork.”

“You have an idea, and you work with it, and the idea talks back to you,” he said. “Eventually, it evolves into whatever the piece of art is at the end of the creative process.”

Both sales garnered accolades from competitors of Mr. Latham, like Craig Evans, a senior managing director in institutional investment sales at the brokerage firm Colliers ABR. Mr. Evans said he admired the “agility” of Mr. Latham and his team in closing the Plaza deal.


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