It’s Good To Be King
Chris Cortazzo began his career 17 years ago with a celebrity sale. It didn’t take him long to become ‘The King of Malibu.’
By Ken Weingartner
When it comes to experiencing all life has to offer, Chris Cortazzo possesses a spirit of wanderlust. When it comes to his job, however, there is no place like home.
Malibu is home.
For a decade, Cortazzo has been the top real estate agent in Malibu, not to mention being named the No. 1 Coldwell Banker sales agent nationally and internationally in 2009. Since the beginning of 2000, he has recorded more than $1.5 billion in closings.
He had no intentions of becoming “The King of Malibu,” as he was dubbed on the Bravo television program “Million Dollar Listing.” It was during a nearly three-year stint working as an assistant for renowned photographer Herb Ritts that the idea of a real estate career blossomed.
“Herb was a remarkable photographer and he photographed anyone and everyone who was famous,”says Cortazzo, who is the estates director for the Malibu West office of Coldwell Banker. “During the shoots, when people found out I was from Malibu, they would ask where they should live if they were going to move there. I knew all the intricacies of this special place and I got into placing people in Malibu. I put two and two together and decided I should go into real estate.”
The connections Cortazzo made during his time with Ritts were beneficial. His first sale was in 1994 to actor Richard Gere for $5 million, and his first listing was for $8 million.
“It was great working with Herb and having that experience,” says Cortazzo. “It was fun and I established so many important relationships with Hollywood. I’m not intimidated by anyone; people are people and I just see them for who they are. I love working with people.
“To me it’s all about trust. When you travel in those circles it’s so important that you maintain people’s trust. Your business is built on referrals. If you do a good job and you’re trustworthy, it’s amazing how your career will unfold.”
Cortazzo traveled the world while working for Ritts. Previously, he studied a year in Italy as acollegestudent and spent time in Europe, Australia and New Zealand while modeling.
“No matter where I go, I love coming back to Malibu,” says Cortazzo. “It truly has everything. I think it is the best place in the world to live.”
IN HIS WORDS
Q: Who have been the biggest influences on your life?
A: My mom [Patricia] and my dad [Vincent]. Unfortunately, I lost my dad 2-1/2 years ago, which has been devastating. But my brother [Daniel] and I came from a wonderful, very loving family. My parents’ lives revolved around us. They really loved us and would do everything with us. I was very fortunate. I bought the home next door to my parents and I’d see them at least two or three times a day.
Q: You’re involved with an animal rescue, how did that come about?
A: I have a lot of rescued chickens and turkeys on my property. I believe in kindness to all living things. I’ll rescue a bee out of a pool. It’s so easy to be kind and so much energy to be mean.
Q: Were you involved in a lot of activities growing up?
A: My dad and I would go free-diving after school and I’ve been surfing since I was 5. I was on the crew team in college and also got into acting. I did a one-act play and then I was in the musical “Guys and Dolls.” I had five different roles, but I couldn’t sing if my life depended on it.
Q: Do you enjoy seeking new experiences?
A: I love taking on new challenges. I’m like a gypsy because I like to change things up in my life – except for real estate. I’ve been in the business for over 17 years. It’s the longest I’ve been in one place.
Q: What do you most enjoy about working in real estate?
A: I love being able to make people’s dreams come true. It’s so satisfying to be able to hand the keys to someone and know they’re going to have all these wonderful experiences in their new home.