Celebrities star in realty agents’ most memorable moments


The real estate agents to the stars and the power brokers who put the deals together recall their most memorable realty moments. The agents were selected by the sheer number of columns in which they have been mentioned.

Stephen Shapiro, Westside Estate Agency

“Many years ago I sold a house to Joan Collins (house genealogy: Lawrence Harvey, Totie Fields, Max Mutchnick, Collins, Ellen DeGeneres, Ryan Seacrest). After inspections, Joan’s husband renegotiated heavily over a roof replacement and took a credit. They remodeled the entire house and subsequently had a huge housewarming party. It poured that night, and the roof leaked like a sieve and spewed water over the new house. Her husband never used the reduction to repair the roof.”


Joe Babajian, Rodeo Realty

“I had a listing on a home in Beverly Hills. The son of the owner had a poster of Ozzy Osbourne on his bedroom wall. I happened to be showing Ozzy the home, and he saw the poster and signed it for him. The son of the owner was surprised and thrilled when he saw the signed poster. A few years later, I ended up listing the Osbournes’ house. I had interesting reactions from many of the buyers who looked at the house because of all of the religious symbolism. There was a plaque outside the house that said, ‘Forget the dog, beware of the owner.’ There were crosses on each of the doorknobs and the wallpaper. There was also a mezuza on the front door, and stained glass with a portrait of Moses.”

Jeff Hyland, Hilton & Hyland/Christie’s International Real Estate

“I fondly remember an excursion to Pasadena with Wallace Neff Jr. and Hot Property column founder Ruth Ryon to meet Wally’s dad, the famed architect. He was in a rest home saying, ‘No, no, no,’ to someone who wanted him to build a new house. He hung up the phone and turned to the three of us: ‘I told that imbecile I was retired, and he had the nerve to try to buy plans from me for a site I never visited.’ The caller eventually had a draftsman knock off Neff’s Cary Grant estate in Bel-Air. Wallace, Wally and Ruth are no longer with us but would get a laugh to know that the knockoff was bulldozed last month. Very fitting.”

Joyce Rey, Coldwell Banker Previews International

“Beverly Hills is a city rich with history, and the infamous Hot Property column connects many fascinating back stories with our great residential real estate market. One of my favorite stories to tell is that of the former tennis court estate of celebrity Janet Leigh, who starred in ‘Psycho.’ Although she lived in her estate for many years, she never used the shower again. I guess the actress was more impacted than the audience! I am honored to have been so frequently mentioned over the years, from selling the famous Pickfair and Green Acres estates, to representing Tom Jones’ Bel-Air landmark and selling it to Nicholas Cage, to closing the highest sale in the U.S. [in 2010] for the exquisite Le Belvedere estate in Bel-Air. My phone would always ring off the hook because of the column’s wide readership and popularity.”

Barry Sloane, Sotheby’s International Realty

“Selling historic and modern architecture in Los Angeles is a thrill. It’s also rewarding to see great architecture from the past respected and nurtured by celebrities used to having things their own way. Los Pavoreales, for example, designed by Wallace Neff in 1926, has been owned by such names as Madonna, Jenna Elfman and Katey Sagal. Predominantly Spanish Colonial in style, it is situated in total privacy on about 2 acres in Los Feliz. The celebrity owners all loved the original Neff architecture so much that they paid multi-millions for a home lacking a swimming pool, air conditioning and with such a tiny closet that Madonna had to build a huge cedar structure in the basement to hold her clothes, which the staff brought up to her daily. Until recently the garden had no sprinkler system and required hand watering. Hooray for such a respect for architecture and history from the ultra-privileged!”

Brett Lawyer, Hilton & Hyland/Christie’s International Real Estate

“It’s been a great pleasure and inspiration to represent so many legendary historic properties over several decades. I once represented the buyer of the Orson Welles property in Hollywood Hills. I remember when I first moved to Hollywood having lunch next to Welles at Ma Maison restaurant. He was smoking a cigar and he bought me dessert because it was my birthday.”

Drew Mandile, Sotheby’s International Realty

“I remember once when Randy Newman came to Engelbert Humperdinck’s house. Called the Pink Palace, it was Jayne Mansfield’s former home. Newman was doing a piece at the time at locations along Sunset Boulevard, and they called to see if they could use the home for filming. As the listing agent, I was there when he came to look at the house. He sat down at the piano and began to play. For some reason, I thought I could sing, so I began and we sang ‘I Love L.A.’ together.”

Jordan Cohen, Re/Max Olson & Associates

“I am very proud and honored to say I have had the pleasure to represent over 50 professional athletes with their real estate transactions. I consider most to be very close friends. Marcus Allen is at the top of the list! I met Marcus when I sold his Montecito estate 11 years ago. Since that deal, my friendship with Marcus has far outweighed any real estate transaction. Not only has he referred many clients my way, he has also stepped up as a true friend. He helped coach my son Cameron’s youth team when he was 9 years old and even spoke at his high school football fundraiser. Marcus is a very charitable guy. He attends the Harold Pump Foundation event every year to benefit cancer research. He even invited me to his Hall of fame induction in Canton, Ohio. Celebrity real estate is a lot of fun and very rewarding, but it is friendships that will last a life time.”

Valerie Fitzgerald, The Fitzgerald Group, Coldwell Banker (Also appears on the real estate reality show “Selling L.A.”)

“There was a time when my daughter used to go with me to many showings after school, and at that time Ben Affleck was out looking at houses. He came multiple times back to a house I had listed on Gloaming Way with Jennifer Garner before they were married. I had to bring my daughter with me on several of those showings. After the third time they had come back, Ben greeted my daughter Vanessa and said, ‘Hi! Come and give Uncle Ben a big hug!’ I thought she would die. It was so sweet.”