Christie’s International bets on auction business ties for NYC resi

Ilija Pavlovic motions toward Christie’s auction house from the window of the 24th-floor conference room in 1 Rockefeller Plaza. 

The showroom, which houses fine art, jewelry and other wares up for auction or private sale, is just a five-minute walk from the new flagship office of Christie’s International Real Estate Group. It was also a large part of the brokerage’s bet when it set up shop in Manhattan at the start of the year.

After seven years building its presence in the tri-state area under Pavlovic, president and CEO of Christie’s International Real Estate Group LLC, Christie’s is back in the Big Apple and looking to the luxury goods trade to boost its foothold in the city.

Christie’s International Real Estate previously had a Manhattan presence before the Chicago-based brokerage @properties purchased the real estate segment. The 2021 deal included the firm selling the New York City affiliate to Brown Harris Stevens. 

Christie’s has 45 agents in Manhattan, along with nearly 1,100 already in its tri-state network. 

The fine goods business gives the brand’s real estate arm “access to very unique clients,” Pavlovic said. “We have this permanent flow of leads coming from the auction house to our real estate business.”

The referral relationship flows in both directions, Pavlovic said. When Christie’s agents check out a client’s property or meet with buyers, they’re also asking around for items they may want to sell through Christie’s auction house. If agents are successful in their inquiries, they can earn a referral commission. 

Christie’s also hosts multiple large-scale auction events each year, and with each event comes an opportunity to showcase the brand’s real estate listings, particularly in the luxury hub of New York City.

Christies’ angling for brand recognition might seem similar on the surface to Sotheby’s, a brand also known for its auction house and dealings in luxury wares but with an already-established reputation in Manhattan real estate. 

“Christie’s and Sotheby’s are as similar as Mercedes and BMW, [but] I’m only talking about the brand recognition,” Pavlovic said. “Great brand, but our business model is totally different.”

Though Christie’s is owned by @properties, Pavlovic maintains that the firm, unlike Sotheby’s — the real estate arm of which is under parent company Anywhere Real Estate — has a more direct relationship with its auction house.

“In our Christie’s world, we are part of one system,” Pavlovic said. 

Among those who have recently joined the firm are Gina Sabio and Sean Sutherland, formerly with Corcoran and Brown Harris Stevens respectively. Agents from across Christie’s affiliate network are also looking to break into the Manhattan market, including Alexander Madrigal of the Los Angeles-based AKG team. 

Last month, the firm announced it was opening an office at 26 Park Place in East Hampton — its first Out East.

Brokers work alongside 150 support employees in the tri-state area, as well as an in-house technology platform for agents to interact directly with clients, generate marketing materials and create interactive digital listings.

Madrigal has one listing on the firm’s website, a three-bedroom unit at 30 Park Place in Tribeca asking $5.3 million. Christie’s other listings include a five-bedroom, Upper East Side townhouse priced at $12.8 million and a three-bedroom apartment at The Beresford on the Upper West Side, last asking $3.4 million. 

Though the firm is tackling some pricey listings, Pavlovic said the brand isn’t committed to a particular price threshold and considers luxury “related to a level of service.”


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