Dolly Lenz

Who

The vice chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman, Lenz is the top real estate broker in the city and the United States.

Backstory

Born Idaliz Camino in Washington Heights—her dad Manuel, an immigrant from Spain, made sandwiches at a local deli—the future brokerage queen took her first job at Waldbaums before attending Baruch and picking up a master's in accounting at the New School. After a brief accounting career at the movie studio United Artists, Lenz started selling real estate in her mid-20s; thanks to the contacts she made at United Artists, one of her first clients—and someone who'd later help her snag other high-profile clients—was Barbara Streisand. She spent a number of years toiling at what she now derisively refers to as "mom-and-pop" agencies, including Edward Lee Cave's boutique, before moving to Sotheby's International and then to Prudential Douglas Elliman in 1999. Following several years of staggering sales, she was promoted to vice chair of Elliman in 2003.

Of note

Lenz has one of the most impressive client rosters of any real estate agent in New York. Business impresarios and celebs she's sold to (or for) include P. Diddy, Nathan Lane, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Ron Perelman, Cameron Diaz, Tommy Mottola, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Marisa Tomei, Bruce Willis, Phil Suarez, Rush Limbaugh, Tiki Barber, Howard Stern, and Mariah Carey. But although she's known for her big-name clients, Lenz does roughly half her business with relatively anonymous foreign buyers, many of whom buy New York City apartments as investments in bulk.

In recent years, Lenz has acted as the exclusive agent for a long list of new development projects. In 2006 she handled sales and marketing for Steve Witkoff and Giuseppe Cipriani's much-hyped Cipriani Club Residences at 55 Wall Street, and she's now busy handling sales and marketing for 400 Fifth Avenue, developer Joseph Chetrit's 57-story hotel-condo rising near the Empire State Building. She also does prodigious business on the East End: In 2005 she sold Burnt Point mansion to Stewart Rahr for $45 million, netting a seven-figure commission; in 2006 she sold a Hamptons guesthouse—not even a house proper—for $20 million. Her notoriously aggressive ways are partly responsible for her enormous success. But she's also had help from up above, too: Elliman's billionaire chairman, Howard Lorber, has plugged her into his network of moneyed acquaintances.

Keeping score

In 2006, Lenz sold $750 million in properties and raked in about $9 million in commissions. Over her entire career, she's sold more than the $5 billion worth of properties. Her earnings have made her the number one residential real estate broker in America for three years running.

Drama

Dolly can be charming—she'd have to be to seal all those deals, of course. But the fast-talking broker can also be ruthless. Dennis Kozlowski, the now-incarcerated ex-CEO of Tyco—and no Mr. Nice Guy himself—famously nicknamed her "Jaws." And she's alienated many of her colleagues over the years with her aggressiveness and tendency to hoard listings. "I've known Dolly for over 20 years, and systematically, whatever friendship she has, it dissolves," Paul Purcell, the former president of Douglas Elliman, once said. Famously hyperkinetic, Dolly carries three Blackberries, eats two business lunches a day, and claims to run 10 miles in Central Park every morning.

Yet for all her mania, lately there's been evidence that she's bitten off more than she can chew. DCD America, a development firm that had hired her to sell and market 813 Park Avenue, fired her in December 2006 after she failed to "timely respond" to calls and emails from the firm's principal. (Perhaps a fourth Blackberry is in order?) She refused to accept her termination, though, and six months later was still actively marketing the property, even though DCD America had hired a replacement marketer.

Soundbite

"You know, I'd condo all of Central Park if I could," Lenz told the Financial Times in 2006.

AKA

Everyone calls her Dolly. Her real name, Idaliz, is a hybrid of her grandmothers' first names.

Personal

Lenz's husband, Aaron, is an accountant. They have two teenagers, Joseph and Jenny. Over the past 20 years, the deal-obsessed Lenz has moved 38 times. For the moment, she lives at the Park Imperial on West 56th Street. In January 2007, she put her 7 bedroom, 7.5 bathroom place in Southampton on the market for just under $6 million.