Agent Provocateur

During a leisurely conversation in a living room transformed into an art gallery, we talk about his various passions: his children, horses, art, his wife, Homeira, and real estate.

Arnold Goldstein, founder and director of Shorewood Realtors, is sitting beneath a massive sculpture—composed of his son’s toys—by artist Simon Ouwerkerk. The soft-spoken Detroit native sounds remarkably like Motown native Rodríguez in this year’s Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man. He bears a striking resemblance to Einstein—only Goldstein is fastidiously well-groomed. During a leisurely conversation in a living room transformed into an art gallery, we talk about his various passions: his children, horses, art, his wife, Homeira, and real estate. His biggest dilemma is what to wear to an upcoming celebration of his birthday and his 50 years in real estate.

You once sold shoes; so which pair are you’re going to wear?

I haven’t decided. The Prada shoes are not very flexible, and I love to dance. For my 70th birthday, my wife invited Veena and Neena, twin belly dancers. They danced, and I ended up taking my shirt off. 

Do you belly dance?

I’m going to dance freeform. The same twins are coming.

You considered a career in fashion.

Fashion has to do with artistic talent. I think I had the talent to draw. Clothes show something about you artistically or how you care about yourself. I’m not sure that I’m different, but I don’t want to look the same as everyone else. 

Your first job was delivering milk with your father in Detroit at 3 a.m.

My dad was my hero. He was like Franklin Roosevelt, John Wayne and Joe Lewis—because he could fight. He had boxed when he was in the service. He taught me how to fight, which gave me a feeling of self-worth. I didn’t want to start a fight, but my dad said, “If you see a guy’s eyes shift, you might as well throw the first punch.”

How do you transfer boxing into your skill set? You’re not allowed to punch anyone these days.

That’s not the point. It’s the competition. 

So you’re still hungry?

Yes. Hungry to do well. When I am fulfilled emotionally, quite often the dollars will come along with it. It’s not the dollars that are the driving force. You want to be as good as you can be. It’s a matter of discipline. If you want something, you have to reach out for it and play by the rules.

It’s such a different time. 51 years after you started. Would you do anything differently if you were starting now?

I don’t know anything about computers, so I’d probably add technology so people know of my existence. But computers are only a vehicle to get in front of somebody. We’re still in the people business. When I started, I couldn’t wait for the world to come to me. I had to go to it. I would make 100 calls to find one person. I wanted to get in front of these people. They’re looking for a savior. 

In 1964, you sold 60 homes. Could you do that today?

No. Lack of product.

What does 50 years experience bring to that situation?

Whether it’s 50 years or five years or 10 years, the business has always been the same. You’re like a retail store, and if you don’t have any merchandise in your store, you’re not going to do any business. You’ve got to pick up the phone. You’ve got to talk your heart out. You’re not going to do it going to parties. You’ve got to look for it, because in real estate, we’re always out of work.

What does it take to make it in real estate, and what do you both look for and train your employees to do?

You have to be technologically good. You have to have confidence. And the key is not to want something from somebody. If you give them something, you have a better chance of getting something back. Your job is to find out what they want and point them in the right direction. That’s difficult to teach somebody. There are instincts that one has.

What else?

You have to be consistent, punctual and take risks in order to learn something outside of your comfort zone. The trick is to be competitive. It’s like a sport. There’s a high that you get when you come together with somebody. That’s what keeps me going. I need that. Every day to me is opening night. A new challenge. New people. The repeat and referral business is the icing on the cake. If you want to really be successful, it’s always about a new relationship, another relationship.

Can people have relationships with works of art the way you respond to people?

Yes. You fall in love. Over and over again. And it’s a little safer.

For any of your works of art, when was it instant infatuation?

I love the deer and the rabbit by Sophie Ryder. That’s all wire, by the way. They seem so real. The new acquisition. (He points to a stainless steel framed mesh of leaves by Rachel Hovnanian.) It just felt right. I liked it. It  was special. Also the three pieces by Suzanne Erickson. The first one I saw was the black one. This was at the Santa Monica Airport, where artists have studios. I walked in by myself and saw the black piece and thought it was so special. I wanted to buy it right away. I didn’t want anybody else to have it. In fact, I made her deliver it the next day because I didn’t want anybody to see it. I wanted it. Then my wife and I ended up buying several of her other works.

Do you and your wife always fall in love with the same artwork?

My wife fell in love with the Clark Gable painting by Trek Kelly, the same painter who did Abraham Lincoln in drag.  She might fall in love with something, and I might not be ready. I was not ready at that particular time.

Do you buy art as an investment?

No. Not at all. We’re buying because we want to.

Where does this drive of yours come from?

Survival. When I started, I wasn’t boxed into a corporate structure. I wanted to do more business than anybody. You work with what you’ve got and make the most of what you have.

Do you still go to the office?

Every day.

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