Last year started with a bang for brokers in New York, but by fall and into 2023, a series of unfortunate events was putting a stranglehold on the market.
Historically low interest rates gave way last year to the highest in decades. Crypto crashed and banks failed. The specter of an all-out recession loomed. In the first quarter of 2023, the average sales price of a property in NYC dropped 5 percent. But despite the challenges, many real estate teams managed to post record numbers at the luxury end of the market. And in 2022, New York toppled London for the title of priciest world city in the ultra-high-end sector, with 287 deals of $10 million or more, including two co-ops sold by the estate of Paul Allen (for $101 million) and a condo at the new Aman property ($74 million).
“People feel less good about buying because they hear that there’s a recession out there,” says Lisa Lippman of Brown Harris Stevens. “But in general, the people I’m working with still have as much money as they did before.” Coming into 2023, the mood has already shifted bullish, and buyers are back, say many agents. “People got sick of waiting,” says Compass’ Rachel Glazer. “It was almost like a memo went out at the beginning of the year that said, ‘OK, everybody. Go ahead and buy now.’ “
To put together this list of top agents in New York City and the Hamptons — which includes THR‘s New York Team of the Year, Douglas Elliman’s Eklund | Gomes — The Hollywood Reporter not only crunched total sales numbers but also scoured celebrity listings and sales for clients such as Trevor Noah, Mindy Kaling, Hugh Jackman, Jonah Hill and Baz Luhrmann. Client names are found via public records.
Oren & Tal Alexander
Last year, after a star-studded career at Douglas Elliman, brothers Tal and Oren Alexander launched their own firm, Official, an ultra-high-end global property brokerage. But running a business doesn’t mean that they aren’t selling all the time. “One-hundred percent of my time is going into brokering,” says Tal. “My primary focus is New York City and the Hamptons, and Oren focuses more on South Florida.” In January, Official opened a Los Angeles office, led by Tyrone McKillen. The Alexander Team completed over $1.2 billion in 2022 sales — $730 million of it in NYC. They closed a $55 million penthouse at the new Aman, as well as a penthouse at 20 Greene St. in Soho for $35 million and a penthouse at 520 Park Ave. for $34.5 million. “What differentiates us from the competition is that we are our clients,” says Tal. “We live amongst our clients. We travel amongst our clients. We eat and socialize amongst our clients. That means we relate to them more.”
“My daughter was the one who told me to get my license,” says Emily Beare, a top agent at Core who has been in the business for 19 years. “I met with [Core’s founder] Shaun Osher when he had just started the company and he said to me, ‘You are going to be one of the top brokers in the city.’” He wasn’t wrong. Beare racked up $151 million in sales last year and this year was one of a pair of brokers who repped Rupert Murdoch in a $35.2 million co-op purchase. When she isn’t selling top properties, she’s buying them: She recently purchased an Upper East Side apartment once owned by Lena Horne. “When people work with me, they know that I’m honest and won’t lead them in the wrong direction,” says Beare.
Douglas Elliman’s Noble Black — whose deals include listing a Chelsea penthouse bought for $22.1 million by Hugh Jackman last August — says the market in 2022 “was condensed into three quarters as the fourth quarter fell mostly flat after interests rates began to rise.” Still, clients old and new were eager to make decisions on real estate, resulting in a $318 million year for him. He has a law background but left the field after he was offered a legal consulting deal with the producers of The Apprentice. “The deal aspect of the law was what I found interesting,” he says, “so when my eight-week consulting position in entertainment came to an end, I decided to give real estate a try.” In 2022, he sold a pair of condos in Nolita owned by John Legend and Chrissy Teigen for $17 million.
SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY
High-powered Sotheby’s agent Serena Boardman, who did $499 million in sales in 2022 and regularly works with some of the entertainment industry’s biggest names, is listing the former home of Joan Didion for $6.5 million as well as a duplex owned by Steve Wynn for $75 million.
“One thing is for sure, the Hamptons will be busy this summer. I have more than $60 million in contracts out in just the last couple weeks,” says Corcoran Group’s Susan Breitenbach, who has over $5.5 billion in career transactions and has worked with such clients as Bette Midler, Christie Brinkley, Billy Joel and Richard Gere. Regarding the current market, she says, “a lot of our buyers spent a lot time here during COVID and they realized how important it is to have a Hamptons home, and how nice it can be off season. Although 2022 was challenging for many and inventory was low, deals were getting done if properties were priced correctly.”
BROWN HARRIS STEVENS
Nobody knows NYC’s best apartments quite like John Burger of Brown Harris Stevens. From Upper East Side triplex apartments to Astor-built penthouses, he has spent 30 years whispering to co-op boards and advising clients from Bette Midler to (reportedly) Jeff Bezos. “New York is back,” says Burger. “Culture is back. Museum exhibits are back. If you are a city person, it’s hard to find a greater city than New York City.” Currently Burger has more than $400 million in listings across Manhattan, including a 10-bedroom townhouse owned by investor Ron Perelman at 36 E. 63rd St., asking $60 million, as well as a $29.95 million penthouse at 730 Park Avenue. “I know my market. I grew up here ” says Burger. “I started in an era before the internet, when a broker had to really understand architecture and design. You had to know your buildings and you had to know your layouts. You had to know your board and the position of the buildings, the exposures and the sunlight in each particular line. I really had to learn real estate.
Ryan Serhant’s new media-obsessed brokerage seems like a match made in heaven for Loy Carlos. Since joining Serhant in 2021, Carlos has already knocked out several monster deals including 36 E. 68th St., which he sold with Ryan Serhant last year for $57 million (furniture included), or $6,200 per square foot — a townhouse record for the city. “When we went into contract at $45 million, the buyers had only seen the property on FaceTime. But when the seller came back and asked for $12 million more, the buyer said they’d need to see it for themselves,” he says. “So I walked him through the Upper East Side and pointed at every single townhouse and told them what they sold for.” Carlos attributes his success at Serhant to his extensive background in real estate marketing. “I found a different way in,” said Carlos. “I went into real estate management first and then real estate advertising. I was doing web videos for properties back in 1995. I could do the listing setups within one day when it took all the other firms two months.” It’s that wealth of knowledge, he says, that will help him move listings like a $250 million penthouse at Central Park Tower and the $35 million Gucci penthouse.
With more than $7 billion in career sales, Corcoran Group’s Carrie Chiang sold more than $500 million in 2022 and counts Barbra Streisand, Jim Carrey and Sean Combs among past clients. “Getting buyers and sellers to agree to a meeting of the minds can sometimes be challenging, and each deal has become more complex to get to the closing table,” says Chiang, “but I thrive on difficult deals; I’m a problem-solver.” Recent deals include a $70.5 million penthouse condo in 96-story Billionaire’s Row building 432 Park Avenue and a $56 million townhouse on the Upper East Side. “The luxury market will remain consistently active,” says Chiang, “with ongoing off-market transactions and New York City’s international appeal, attracting purchasers across price points, locations, and buildings.
Steven Cohen’s interest in real estate began with a deep passion for beautiful homes. “Where I grew up outside of Philadelphia, we have some of the most magnificent examples of early 1900s estates and manor homes,” he says. “In high school, college, and to this day, I spent my days researching and admiring those beautiful mansions.” One of Cohen’s recent deals, which contributed to a $256 million sales year in 2022, fits that bill: a pre-war “Old World full floor in one of the finest buildings on Park Avenue, a time capsule with incredible art and furnishings,” he says. It was being sold by the estate of a well-known socialite, and due to delays and complications, took two years to close. “We got it done with persistence, patience, and keeping expectations and emotions in check.”
Gary Cooper & Preston Kaye
HEDGEROW EXCLUSIVE PROPERTIES
If you’ve never heard of Gary Cooper or Preston Kaye, that’s by design. The duo behind the Hamptons brokerage Hedgerow Exclusive Properties, founded in 2020, say that keeping a low profile is what gets the job done on the East End. “I built my business over 20 years by doing things very quietly, confidentially and discreetly, and not boasting about myself,” says Cooper. While Hedgerow is a relatively new player in the Hamptons, it has already done some of the area’s most remarkable deals. In December 2021, they sold 70 and 71 Cobb Lane in Water Mill for a combined $118.5 million. Both properties are now back on the market (asking $59.5 million and $59.95 million respectively). Meanwhile, 70 Cobb, a 28,000-square-foot mansion, recently was available for a staggering $2 million for July through Labor Day. “I think there’s an opportunity to do things differently and hyper focus on a specific segment of the market,” says Kaye. “That’s what we’ve done. We’ve a built a team. We’ve built a culture.”
In real estate for over 40 years, Corcoran Group’s Tim Davis has cemented himself as a top Hamptons broker, bringing in $380 million in sales in 2022 and more than $5 billion in his career. In the past year, he co-listed Bernie Madoff’s former Montauk home, which sold for $14 million, as well as represented the buyer of late Random House editor Jason Epstein’s $7.3 million Sag Harbor property. “I’ve been fortunate to sell some of our region’s most incredible and iconic properties,” says Davis, pointing to business partner Thomas Davis and acknowledging “smart strategy, good luck and great timing often come into play as well.” He says that real-estate deals that involve furniture and other house contents are prone to becoming contentious. “At times, buyers lose focus on the big picture and instead become fixated on single pieces of furniture,” says Davis. “We’ve found that deals of all sizes and price ranges can get derailed on this subject. While in each instance it created new challenges to overcome, I am pleased that we have successfully navigated every situation where this was a factor.” Last year, Davis was the co-listing agent for the Linden Estate at 160 Ox Pasture Road in Southampton; it sold in November for $70 million, making it the biggest non-waterfront residential real estate trade ever in the Hamptons, according to Davis.
TEAM OF THE YEAR
Fredrik Eklund & John Gomes
John Gomes and Fredrik Eklund, THR‘s New York team of the year, made waves with a stunning 2022 sales year, raking in $4.6 billion in transactions across the U.S. and $623 million in NYC (according to The Real Deal), after a similar 2021. “We’re very proud of that $4 billion-plus number for two years in a row,” says Eklund, who starred in Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing franchise. The Eklund | Gomes team — which signed a five-year contract in December to remain with Douglas Elliman and has worked with Jennifer Lawrence and Jennifer Lopez — specializes in new development like The Edison, Olympia and Greenwich Village’s 64 University Place, where 26 of 28 units sold off-market in a matter of months “for record high prices,” Gomes says. “And we had a huge contingent of celebrity clients that bought there. A big presence from the West Coast for sure.” (The building’s penthouses are being held back until the building is completed.) Gome adds that 2022 marked “the return of the international buyer” and explains that the team’s business model of developing new builds with developers, designers, and architects helps them customize spaces to fit their clients’ preferences. “[We] really look at these celebrities and design for their needs, years before the building is done,” says Gomes.
Stephen Ferrara & Clayton Orrigo
Want a West Village townhouse? Get The Hudson Advisory Team on speed dial. “The West Village is the hottest market in Manhattan and we control it,” says Clayton Orrigo, who, with Stephen Ferrara, runs a team that produced $1.15 billion in sales last year. Last year they inked a $27 million deal in TriBeCa for Shutterstock CEO Jon Oringer at 56 Leonard St. and sold a $24 million townhouse at 9 Jay St., an iconic Tribeca building with a much-Instagrammed skybridge. Their listing for Adam Levine’s former SoHo loft at 112 Greene St. is also now in contract with a $6 million ask, and they’ve worked high-profile deals involving Tom Ford, the Rockefeller family and Katie Lee West. But the duo say that their most interesting sale of 2022 was a parking garage at 125 Perry Street. “People have been trying to buy this garage for decades and it’s never successfully traded,” said Ferrara. “We were able to discreetly facilitate a transaction for just shy of $65 million.” Recently, they launched sales at The Keller, a seven-story residential building and New York City historical landmark at 150 Barrow Street in the West Village.
“The market for unique trophy real estate in prime Manhattan locations has been incredibly strong,” says Corcoran Group’s Cathy Franklin, who ended last year with more than $600 million and has more than $400 million in closings already in 2023. Sales included all of the residences at new Park Avenue condominium 109 E. 79th St., with the most expensive unit in contract for more than $30 million. “Honesty, integrity, and a passion for helping both buyers and sellers has been key to my success,” says Franklin. She notes a trend of clients returning to the Big Apple after moving away: “Our city is one of the world’s foremost cultural and financial centers and I think many people realized what they were missing. From the museums and theaters, to the restaurants and parks, there’s quite simply no place like New York.”
“My grandmother lived on MacDougal and Prince. I remember Patti Smith bought the townhouse across the street. I was obsessed with townhouses and architecture,'” says Manhattan-born agent Carl Gambino of taking an early interest in real estate, which has since translated into more than $1 billion in career sales. In May, Gambino, who works across New York, L.A. and Miami, sold Mindy Kaling’s SoHo loft for $2.4 million. He says his secret to servicing entertainment industry clients is simple: treat them just like any other client: “They’re normal people and they want to be treated that way,” he says. Gambino banked some $375 million in sales last year.
From Formula One legend Lewis Hamilton to Josh Kushner and Karlie Kloss, Compass’ Nick Gavin is known for servicing celebrity clientele — and 2022, in which he closed $272 million in sales, was no different. Not only did he sell Jonah Hill’s NoHo apartment for $10.95 million, but he also picked up the listing for Trevor Noah’s $10.995 million Hell’s Kitchen penthouse. “I was born and raised in Manhattan, so I have home court advantage,” says Gavin, who has done $2 billion in sales over his 15-year career. “I understand the city, the trends and the changing neighborhoods, the way someone who moved here doesn’t. To keep A-List clientele transacting, Gavin adds that all it all comes down to trust: “I’m my true, authentic-self with my clients and I make sure they know they can trust me.”
Compass’s Rachel Glazer explains that New York’s market has felt like a stand-off recently. “Interest rates crept higher and higher and we didn’t really see a drop in prices,” says Glazer. “In New York, sellers can withstand economic downturns for quite some time, and they won’t let these properties go below certain prices. So the sellers hold and buyers hold.” Nevertheless, she pulled off deals like the $14.8 million sale of a historic SoHo townhouse to Grammy-winning musician Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons and his partner, Molly Howard, CEO of fashion line La Ligne — a record for the Charlton-King-Vandam Historic District. She also repped the buyer in a $5 million deal for hedge-fund billionaire John Paulson’s Upper East Side condo — for an eye-popping $20 million under asking price. “I got something right now that we just put into contract for just under $11 million at 150 Charles St. and that’s going to be a record for the non-river side of the building,” says Glazer, who has more than $1 billion in career sales. How does she do it? Simple: “I provide excellent, top-notch, white-glove service and we extend that service to not just our celebrity clients, but every client.” Her current listings include a Greek Revival townhouse in Greenwich Village, on the market for $21.95 million.
Corcoran Group’s Steve Gold, a former star of Million Dollar Listing New York, worked as a model before pivoting to real estate with a focus on downtown Manhattan luxury properties. He recently rented Baz Luhrmann’s Gramercy Park townhouse for $75,000 a month, and sold actor and model Jon Kortajarena’s West Village studio, which was last asking $1.14 million. Last fall, Gold bought his own 10.5-acre estate in Greenwich, Connecticut, for $7.3 million. “While recent headlines portray an environment of uncertainty in real estate overall, the ultra-luxury sector is a distinct subset of the market. This clientele is not as impacted by interest rates,” he says, adding, “Right now there is a lot of demand for unique, or architecturally significant, properties like One High Line where the velocity of sales have been outstanding. These homes will always have a unique appeal.”
Douglas Elliman’s Erica Grossman did $251 million in sales volume last year, which she attributes to hard work and loyalty, two principles that guide her business. “A referral to me is not a one-off transaction, it’s a lifetime referral with extension rights!” says the Hamptons specialist. The Hamptons is a luxury market so Grossman considers all of her clients “A-list clientele,” and works to be efficient by listening to what they’re looking for and eliminating what doesn’t fit. She was a listing agent for a home at 63 Duck Pond Lane in Southampton that was featured on the Discovery+ show Selling the Hamptons and included a $1 million outdoor television — the property sold last July for $30 million.
Once a high school math and science teacher, “in some ways I’m still an educator,” says Corcoran Group’s Deborah Grubman. “I consider myself a trusted adviser to clients, and I need to inform and guide them through an ever-changing market.” Those clients have included the likes of Harrison Ford, David Geffen and Rupert Murdoch — whom she recently represented (along with Emily Beare) in a bidding war for a Central Park South co-op, where he paid $5 million over asking to land at $35.2 million. Grubman is also listing a Manhattan triplex owned by Hugh Jackman for $29.9 million and sold Suzy Welch’s Fifth Avenue co-op for $21 million. Of NYC’s current market, she says, “Our city didn’t experience the same stratospheric price increases that occurred in places like South Florida, so in some ways Manhattan is increasingly a great value for luxury real estate.”
Corcoran Group’s Deanna Kory, who has more than 35 years of experience in residential real estate, had more than $300 million in 2022 sales, which included selling the priciest Upper West Side single-family townhouse ever at $26 million. “[Clients’] decisions must be right for them, and nothing else matters,” says Kory, who also recently listed journalist and filmmaker Joan Kron’s Upper East Side apartment for $1.79 million. “Since the mid-1980s, I have been consistent in marketing to the public and past clients through thoughtful, analytical newsletters and monthly outreach — sharing my analysis and perception of the NYC real estate market and providing advice for prospective buyers and sellers,” Kory says. “Because of our marketing expertise, consistency, and analytical knowledge, we are sought out to assist people in selling and purchasing their homes, especially in uncertain times when sellers and buyers want an experienced top agent.”
BROWN HARRIS STEVENS
For seven consecutive years, Lisa Lippman, a former lawyer, has been the top-producing agent at Brown Harris Stevens. Last year was no different; she brought home $260 million in sales. She recently listed the apartment of George Soros’ ex-wife, Susan Weber, for $24.5 million at 115 Central Park West (it’s now in contract) and sold an $11 million condo at 212 Fifth Ave. that was reportedly bought by Samsung heiress Lee Seo-hyun. “I play the long game,” says Lippman. “I never push anyone to buy or sell anything. My feeling is the people I’m working with are smart. They’re wealthy. They know what they want to do with their money. I’m patient and supportive.”
Michael Lorber & Alexander Boriskin
Michael Lorber and Alexander Boriskin of The Michael Lorber Team at Douglas Elliman expanded from NYC into other markets including the Hamptons, pulling in a total of $400 million in 2022 sales. “The market in New York City will only get stronger next year,” Boriskin says. “A lot of economists are predicting that interest rates will start to come down, which should increase consumer confidence and boost the overall economy which will lead to more activity in the market.” Their listings include French architect Thierry Despont’s 10,000-square-foot Tribeca townhouse for $19.5 million.
Corcoran Group’s Betsy Messerschmitt, an almost 30-year real estate vet, pulled off NYC’s biggest deal last year, representing the estate of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (according to public records) in the off-market sale of two Upper East Side co-ops — one penthouse and one on a lower floor — for a combined $101 million. If considered one property, that would far surpass the previous co-op record of $77.5 million set in 2015
“Always be prepared, on time, humble and well dressed,” says Modlin Group founder Adam Modlin, a former stylist for Bergdorf Goodman’s men’s store, of his modus operandi. The ultra-connected broker, who recently opened an office in Bridgehampton, holds the $32.5 million listing for a SoHo penthouse owned by Ron Burkle and is listing a townhouse on East 73rd Street for $27.5 million that served as the home of Miranda Priestly in the film The Devil Wears Prada. Modlin also recently sold Amy Schumer’s Upper West Side penthouse for $13 million. “2022 was a very strong year for our firm,” says Modlin. “Our success can be attributed to following client trends rather than market trends. Whereas the markets may have slowed, our clients’ growth has accelerated. As their net worths have increased, their appetite for residential real estate has expanded.”
Douglas Elliman’s Enzo Morabito, whose clients have included Christie Brinkley and Annie Leibovitz, focuses on waterfront homes in the Hamptons, a specialty he calls “incredibly nuanced — each property is unique, whether because of wetlands or new building restrictions or a million other challenges — which is why we have consultants on retainer,” he says. Before his career in real estate, Morabito managed a club on Dune Road, promoted entertainment events like concerts and boxing matches, and developed land for clients.
Douglas Elliman’s Lauren Muss, a trained gemologist and former owner of an accessories business, says her background in sales and management helped secure her success in real estate. “Be honest and straightforward. Clients respect that,” she says. Last year, Muss sold properties for Tony Shalhoub and David Duchovny and had total sales of $199 million in 2022. “There were still buyers looking from the post-COVID craze who we were able to find on and off-market specialty properties for,” she says. Her listings include a 5,646-square-foot duplex penthouse at 225 Mulberry that’s on the market for $25 million.
Douglas Elliman’s Holly Parker, whose team did more than $341 million in deals last year, isn’t afraid of a challenge. Amid the peak of the COVID pandemic, “we broke records,” she recalls. “We sold the most expensive apartment uptown at $52 million in lockdown over FaceTime.” In 2020, her team at Douglas Elliman was named number one, and in 2021 and 2022, they were number two. “The best part for me is meeting people from all over the world. That’s what makes the job exciting after 30 years,” she says. Parker has invested in a lot of real estate herself, experience that she believes adds credibility to her business. “Just dealing with a lot of trusts and financial advisors …I know what [clients] need and know what they want. I share my wins and I think that makes them feel better.” Her current listings include the penthouse at The Charles, a four-floor, eight-bedroom “townhouse in the sky,” as the listing calls it, that’s on the market for $55 million.
Former Million Dollar Listing New York castmember Ryan Serhant, who has 1.8 million Instagram followers, is one of the most visible brokers in NYC real estate. He’s also the busiest. Since launching his eponymous firm in 2020, he’s already expanded into Florida, New Jersey and Connecticut, among other markets. Last year, he not only closed a unit at Central Park Tower for $50 million (after meeting a buyer at a restaurant), but also listed a massive three-level, 23-room penthouse in the same building for $250 million — currently the highest ask in the city. “We just grew a lot,” says Serhant. “I think we’re the fastest-growing brokerage in New York City.” Last year, he did $216 million in sales in NYC and his listings include a condo at Olympic Tower that was formerly owned by Nicolas Cage and is on the market for $14.95 million.
Jim St. André
“The A-list and celebrity clients have been some of my best experiences,” says Compass’ Jim St. André, a former pro soccer player and ESPN commentator who sold $225 million in property in 2022, thanks in part to working with entertainment figures like Ellen Barkin (for whom he sold a townhouse in the West Village this year for $11 million), Julianne Moore, Jennifer Lawrence and artist/director Julian Schnabel. “A lot of notable personalities in entertainment love real estate. They invest in it and collect it. So they love the real details; they want the brain share. We provide that to them.” His top sale of last year was at 125 Perry Street, a complex deal a decade in the making for a co-op-owned parking garage that will become a boutique condo building. He brought the buyer, who convinced the board to take $64.2 million, making it the most expensive real estate deal in the West Village since 2018. “It was an epic transaction,” says St. André, who has career sales of more than $3.25 billion. His current listings include a 1836 Greenwich Village townhouse renovated by Cortney and Robert Novogratz and on the market for $29.95 million.
Douglas Elliman’s Patricia Vance executed the largest condo transaction in NYC last year: the Aman Penthouse, at $74 million. “This transaction came with many challenges, [but] my buyer’s three words ‘nothing is impossible’ have stayed with me and have now become a guiding principle in my life,” says Vance, who been at Douglas Elliman since 1999. The 6,700-square-foot penthouse is the entire 20th floor of the Aman New York and boasts a private elevator, saltwater pool and two terraces.
Former Million Dollar Listing New York star Tyler Whitman had a big 2022. Not only was his team at Triplemint acquired by the rapidly expanding West Coast-based firm The Agency, but he just launched The Agency’s inaugural Hamptons office along with former Sotheby’s agent Dana Trotter. He notes that some people who decamped to Florida during the pandemic have returned to NYC, boosting sales. “I’ve had a lot of people who left the city say, ‘That was a mistake,’ and they’re coming back.” He explains that 2022 “was no 2021, when our phones were ringing off the hook — but interestingly our average price point went up pretty substantially last year, so we had a pretty similar sales volume, year over year, even though our number of transactions was actually down.” Selling properties like 34 Prince St. for $10.4 million and an 1829 townhouse at 13 Cranberry St. in Brooklyn for $9 million helped push his 2022 sales up to $155.5 million. (To pitch the latter property on YouTube, he dressed as a sea captain.) When he’s not selling tony townhouses, he’s giving back, funding the entire theater program for a school in Hell’s Kitchen via the Broadway Arts Education — an organization that supports theater programs for underprivileged NYC public schools. He also co-hosts a podcast, Glitter and Gay, with Atlanta real estate agent and TikTok star Glennda Baker.
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