Alexander Kraft, prestigious real estate professional and international business man, is a man of many talents. Back on a unique and amazing path.
-What are some of the highlights from your career ?
I define myself as a pure product of Sotheby’s since I have never worked for any other company. When I was studying law at University, my ambition was to become a diplmoat. But when I was studying for my doctorat in California, I did an internship at Sotheby’s in Beverly Hills. From a family of collectors, and myself passionate about art, I asked if I could do my internship in an auction house instead of a lawfirm. As soon as I finished my studies, they offered me a position at Sotheby’s where I started manager training. Then one day, the Chief Financial Officer directed me towards a developing department : Sotheby’s Real Estate. My skills coincided with the the wishes of the group to reoragnize European Operations. A short time after, in 1997, I became the President for Europe, the Middle East, Russia, and Africa.
-What has happened next in your career ?
After becoming President, I completely reorganized our international network. In 2004, we had 70 agencies in 30 countries and more than 120 agencies in the US. But given the scale needed for Sotheby’s Realty, the main office decided to separate by adopting the franchise model. I was immediately offered a pre-emptive right to to acquire the rights for the country of my choice. France was second in terms of profit after the US and also a country that I love so that’s what I chose. I then purchased the liscence for France and Monaco and I started from scratch to create my own structure. I took risks in this new challenge but I regret nothing.
-Have you encountered any obstacles ?
I have run into a certain snobiness on the part of certain people in the French market. But in the space of 10 years, Sotheby’s International Realty has become, in terms of number of agencies and volume of transactions, the biggest luxury real estate sales network in France. My wish isn’t actually to be the biggest, but the best in our market niche. We target only high end residential real estate with a price on average of 1.4 million euros with luxury products sometimes surpassing 50 million euros.
-What criteria must a product have to be sold by Sotheby’s Realty ?
It must have a certain charm and an interesting geographic location. The Sotheby’s clients are connoisseurs who are looking for a special product with a certain story and level of class. The other imperativae point is it must be priced correctly. Just like an art object, if the property is over estimated by its owner, it will not sell.
-What do you like most about your job ?
For someone passionate about art, this job offers exceptional material. Very often the products we accept are historical properties with very interesting architecture and heritage. At the same time, the majority of our clients are passionate people who have had very interesting careers. They are entrepreneurs, movie starts, aristocrats, and politicians. It is also the diversity that I love about my career. I supervise a variety of positions : management, marketing, public relations, etc. I must also be a good lawyer because the transactions are often complicated and it’s important to know different languages and nationalities because we don’t address someone from Russia the same as we do someone from China or from the US. I kind of play the role of diplomat and that links me back to what I thought of being as a child : the cycle is now complete.
-What are your other interests ?
I have had the chance to succeed in my professional life very early on, which has not allowed me to do a lot of other things. I am most notably an ambassador for luxury brands such as Tod’s and Cifonelli and I am equally passionate about music which brought me to releasae two singles in the past few years. My motto in life ? To never give up, no matter the obstacle… That is the key to success !