The Next Top Business Model : Paolo Zampolli

When it comes to luxury real estate, Paolo Zampolli’s model agents ensure that image really is everything.

By Nickie Huang
Photography by Yann Dandois


 The Paramount Group is a boutique agency that is dedicated to servicing the needs of a potential buyer. I handle the top deals personally, but I have people working with me that service all different kinds of real estate needs.

Paolo Zampolli is exceedingly well versed in the art of discerning and managing an image. Whether it be discovering Brazilian Vogue’s upcoming cover model through his international modeling agency, ID Model Management, or peddling the resplendent wares of Donald Trump to his many aristocratic contacts the world over, Zampolli has mastered the business of teaching the public about aesthetics. His business ventures in model management and real estate define our present notions of beauty, from the people we want to look like to the domestic lifestyles we want to live. The boutique real estate agency Paramount Group has elected to exploit both areas of Zampolli’s expertise as he transplants exceptionally long-limbed women from the catwalk to the streets in a new hybrid profession of the model/real estate broker.

HL What prompted your transition from the fashion industry to the real estate world? Do you find many parallels in the two industries?
PZ My longtime friendship with Donald Trump influenced my decision to begin a new life. Donald always said I was too capable to limit myself to the modeling industry – I had already created one of the most renowned modeling agencies in New York overnight, and ID Models is now known as the most successful worldwide.
One evening two years ago, Donald, Melania, David Copperfield and I discussed the subject extensively at Cipriani downtown. I am convinced that David and Donald performed magic on me, because the next day I was at NYU getting my real estate license.
Fashion and real estate do have something in common. The major fashion houses are beginning to shift their focus from the way you look to the way you live.

HL In a recent article, Mr. Trump mentions that you have the imagination to be a success in real estate. How does this quality play out in your real estate ventures?
PZ I think Mr. Trump was impressed by one of my first ideas, where we combined the four residences on the 89th and 90th floors of Trump World Tower. The resulting space was a 22,000-square-foot penthouse that was priced at $58 million.

HL How does your approach to selling and marketing luxury properties differ from that of a conventional broker? Do you use different tactics when selling renovated properties in Manhattan (Trump Park Avenue), versus international, experimental projects like Villa Trump outside Sao Paulo?
PZ I give personal attention to the high roller clients; they have lunch at Cipriani with me and have my Maybach at their full disposal while I show the properties. I do not need to make any hard sells – everyone wants to live in a Trump building. Prime real estate is always easy to sell, regardless of whether it is located in New York, Las Vegas, Sao Paulo, Milan, or Paris. I wish we had more inventory, but Mr. Trump sells out really quickly.

HL Let’s talk about your new plan for the Paramount Group. What was the concept behind using models as real estate agents? Are you using any of the talent represented by ID Models?
PZ The Paramount Group is a boutique agency that is dedicated to servicing the needs of a potential buyer. I handle the top deals personally, but I have people working with me that service all different kinds of real estate needs. Our first New York office is located on the ground floor of 104 Greene Street in the heart of SoHo. We do not use models exclusively, but the models we do employ are from various agencies, including ID Model Management. However, the most important thing is that the person is driven and has the ability to service our clients.

HL This pairing of real estate and fashion elevates the profession of modeling to a place beyond mere looks. Why do you think that models can be more successful than your average-looking woman?
PZ I do not think anyone will be surprised by this, but some of these women are not only extremely beautiful; they are also exceptionally driven. At the end of the day, modeling is an incredibly competitive industry and these women are accustomed to fighting for their success at a very young age. Helping some of these talented women get their real estate license was just a formality; many of them were born to do this and will be very successful.

HL What other innovations are ahead for you? Are you planning an expansion into yet another field?
PZ I have been looking into the yachting industry lately, as I have had some experience there in the past. I think there is a demand for these products and I just began my first project: converting a 250-foot ice breaker into a super-yacht.