Darren Curtis (Sc. 1990-95), our OB Australia Ambassador, spent six years specialising in prestige markets in central London after which he set off to Australia in 2006. He now sells real estate for Christie's International, focusing on some of the country's finest and most significant homes. Along with the Head Master, he will be hosting our biennial OB Australia Dinner on Tuesday 18th December 2018.
- When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?
Being at Brighton College meant we were exposed to such a fantastically wide and varied range of subjects and activities; I simply enjoyed being there and didn’t focus too much on what the future may or may not have in store for me. I was never definite on a vocation or particular line of work so just made sure I took advantage of all those elements being offered to me whether on an academic, sporting or social platform trusting I would find my way.
- What do you do now, and what does your job involve?
I sell real estate working for Christie’s International (the real estate arm of Christie’s Fine Arts). I am based in Sydney (since March 2006) and am fortunate to cover the nation focusing on some of the country’s finest and most significant homes. I work alongside a chap called Ken Jacobs who is known here as one of the leading figures in the industry and have done now for over 12 years. My main functions revolve around the securing of stock for the company, the creation of a marketing program, accessing some of the market’s most relevant buying markets and ultimately getting the right result for the owner. We are not a high volume agency rather the quality of the homes we handle sets us apart from anyone else in the industry. Our sales last year ranged from $AUD4,000,000.00 to (approx.) $AUD72,000,000.00 (the new Australian residential record).
- What are the most rewarding and challenging parts of your job?
When focusing purely on the very top end of any marketplace, you encounter some very interesting people, people who know what they want, how they want to see things unfold and how they deem a given process to be conducted. It can be challenging putting a professional case across if your opinion differs from theirs and this happens with an unnerving regularity. However, the flip side is that our results for our clients (owners) tend to shine through; we hold 18 suburb records and have sold the Nation’s most expensive home for the last 4 years running. Aside from the day to wranglings with this type of owner (and purchaser), I am really very lucky that I get to travel all over and see some truly wonderful homes, homes that can compete on a global stage; penthouses, large estates, beachside, waterfront, rural, I see them all!
- What are you most proud of so far?
In work? If so it was being involved in the most significant sale ever in the country last year. this was the sale of Elaine owned by a well known media family, the Fairfaxes for more than 140 years. It sits on 2 acres on the beach in a suburb called Point Piper, which is the most prestigious suburb (arguably) in the country.
At home, I would say having my 3 children who are now 7, 5 and 18 months; it has been and is a whirlwind!!
- What is your fondest memory of school?
Given the way in which I thoroughly enjoyed my 5 years at the College, I often think back to the very first few days in Sept 1990; the very beginning of that journey. I boarded for each of those 5 years so meeting the 13 other guys with whom I would spend those formative years and getting to know each other. Those first few days in School House; finding a bed, unpacking my trunk, exploring the various areas and understanding the way in which things were to work; it was a genuinely exciting time and probably makes up my fondest memories but there are SO many…
- Who was your favourite teacher and why?
This is incredibly tough (!) I am not sure I can answer that...
- What was the best piece of advice you were given whilst at Brighton?
I was lucky to be exposed to many varying opinions, thoughts and influences but the two snippets that have really stuck with me through over the years are that in the first instance, I should always trust my instinct and never fall victim to self-doubt. Whether moving country, opening my own business I have always remained true to this and it has served me well so far.
Second, and it is definitely clichéd by treat others in the way you would like to be treated. This has become particularly important during the last 10 years and it has required conscious effort and work on my part. However, it has now become habit and given the people I am fortunate to work with, I have found I have been able to create, develop and sustain relationships using this advice I was given at the College.
- What advice you give to your 18 year old self?
Think long term, time goes quick.
- Is there a book, song or film that changed your life?
The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal by Mikhail Tal.
Aside from work and family I play chess and whilst at university I was introduced to the games of Tal (the Wizard from Riga, 09.11.1936-28.06.1992) and they genuinely fascinated me. Not only was he able to carve his way through his opposition of the day to rise to become World Champion (1960-1961) he really gave new depth, breadth and braveness to the game. This was particularly relevant in a time where the Soviet, classical style was dominant (stemming from the rise of Mikhail Botvinnik) and Tal really stood out being unpredictable and creative in his actions, bucking the (then) trends.
I still play an awful lot today and he and his ways have always stuck with me; there are other players who have also created their mark throughout history but Tal gave me the insight to look that little bit deeper and if that showed little resource then his (famous) line always pops into my head encouraging me to whip something out of nothing:
“You must take your opponent into a deep dark forest where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is only wide enough for one…”