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Dirt Digs In: Tomer Fridman

Tomer Fridman Questionnaire

The Dirt Questionnaire, a regular feature that will appear on the first Monday of every month, invites leading figures in real estate, property development, and architecture and design industries to share their thoughts on all things sacred and profane.

Tomer Fridman is the founder of The Fridman Group at Compass. Raised in Los Angeles, he’s built property portfolios for everyone from international royals to the world’s youngest billionaires, and has been featured in “The Wall Street Journal,” and “Architectural Digest.” Fridman is regularly included on Variety’s yearly list of Real Estate Elite.

Describe the most beautiful room you’ve ever been in? The most beautiful room is, in fact, an outdoor space. On the grounds of the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, there’s an area called the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden that’s completely encased on all sides with glazing walls of glass from the museum. It has water elements within the greenery that are a perfect juxtaposition with the statues on display, and it changes with the seasons.

What is your favorite architectural style? The international style of the 1920s and 1930s, which produced buildings such as the Villa Savoye in Paris, which was done by one of my favorite architects of all time, Le Corbusier.

What is your idea of the perfect view? The Mediterranean Sea, as seen from the penthouse vista lounge in Tel Aviv.

Where would you most like to live? Nowhere but Los Angeles. I can’t imagine being elsewhere during our current renaissance of architecture, art, and culture. The city is finally coming into its own.

As a child, which room of the house did you spend the most time in? The den/TV room, sitting on the floor watching cartoons and MTV in the 80’s.

What is the one thing you can’t live without? Green tea! I drink gallons and gallons.

What qualities do you appreciate most in your friends? Loyalty, sense of humor and the willingness to put up with my eccentricities.

What is your greatest fear? A day when my family and friends are not around anymore. Or Kris Jenner giving me the cold shoulder.

Do you think social media gives people false expectations of life? Social media does sometimes offer a skewed vision of reality, but it also offers an escape from the mundane.

Which three people, living or dead, would you invite to your dinner party? Woody Allen, Diane von Furstenberg, Andy Warhol, and the former Shah of Iran. That’s four, but I had to add the Shah, who would be the life of the party.

What aspect of your personality has created the most problems for you in life? Indecision and wanting to please everyone. I haven’t yet figured out how to say no.

Who is your favorite architect? Richard Meier. My favorite house of all time is the Ackerberg house in Malibu, which he designed. Meier is a great follower of the International style of modernism, and he also designed the Getty Museum.

Which song always makes you cry? I love opera and “Madam Butterfly” can get to me. It doesn’t make me cry, but Alphaville’s version of “Forever Young” always makes me sentimental.

What’s the proper course of action when everything around you is falling apart? One foot in front of the other. When you’re going through hell just keep on going.

When did you first fall in love? The summer when I was seventeen in Israel. And it’s all been downhill from there!

When was the last time you surprised yourself? Last Wednesday I was a couple of minutes early for a dinner party, and that should be in the Guinness Book of Records. I am chronically running behind!

What is the most challenging thing about aging? Grasping the actual number. When people ask me my age, my instinct is always to say 26.

What was desperately important to you when you were young that no longer seems quite so pressing? Approval and acceptance from everyone. I’ve realized that’s never going to happen so you may as well stay true to yourself. In the words of Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”

Which movie can you watch over and over again? I have three: “The Goonies,” “The Thomas Crown Affair,” and “Citizen Kane.”

What is your definition of luxury? A thing or a lifestyle that is curated. Something bespoke and not off the rack.

What is your greatest extravagance? No longer having to fly coach, and knowing the menu at Mr. Chow’s by heart.

What’s the most widely held misconception about money? That it brings wealth. To me, wealth is created through the experiences and knowledge that shape your passions and etiquette and taste. Sophistication and style can’t be bought with money.

What is your idea of fun? Being able to relax and be myself, not having to be ON.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? My mom, who is both my business partner and my hero.

When and where were you happiest? Probably now. I feel like I’m at peace with myself and my personality.

How would you like to die? Eating the smoked salmon pizza with extra creme fraiche at Spago.

Which talent would you most like to have? Public Speaking.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Expanding my business from Calabasas into the city. I envisioned that since I first began my career in real estate, and I’m truly humbled to be working amongst the most respected and talented people in the industry.

What’s your idea of an important achievement? Never forgetting your roots and staying humble.

What is your most treasured possession? My dogs. Griffin is the love of my life and Val is a little criminal!

Who are your heroes? My mom is a pillar of strength and yet the warmest and sweetest person I know. Kay Cole, my earliest mentor in real estate and a true legend in the business. Also, anyone that rescues and protects dogs.

What is your greatest regret? Not having the opportunity to spend more time with my grandparents, who were an instrumental part of my upbringing and helped shape my personality.

What’s the most significant historical event that occurred over the course of your life? I remember watching The Berlin Wall coming down, heralding the end of the Cold War. It completely shaped the world we live in today.

What’s important to you today? Telling my friends and family how much I love them on a regular basis, and letting the people in my life know how appreciated they are.

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