Fall 2015 • Issue 56, page 10

Phil Seymour: From White House to the Courthouse

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Phil’s first love was jazz. He grew up in Wichita, Kansas and developed a love for music. His uncle, a high school band director, gave him his first snare drum when he was 8 years old. His parents supported his ambition and, at the age of 16, he was asked to play in the University of Wichita Jazz Big Band. After graduating from high school, he went to Los Angeles to attend the Westlake School of Music. From there, he became a successful working drummer playing various styles of music including jazz gigs playing with the likes of Red Mitchell, Art Pepper, and Pete Christlieb, among others. Later Phil toured with Mitzi Gaynor and Ann-Margret, which culminated in a performance in the East Room of the White House with one of the greatest entertainers of all time, Sammy Davis, Jr.

After achieving his goals in music, he chose a career in real estate, which offered him an equally challenging opportunity. Phil started in residential real estate at Coldwell-Banker from 1977-1982, where he quickly distinguished himself. From 1980-1982, Phil was chosen to be the manager of the Merrill-Lynch Realty Woodland Hills office, where he made it one of the top producing offices in the San Fernando Valley. With almost 100 agents, he continued to increase sales that perpetuated the success of that office. Phil then became Executive Vice-President of DGM/Financial Properties where he developed their residential and investment division, after which he joined Prudential California Realty in their Beverly Hills office. In 1993, Phil moved to Elite Properties Realty where he is Executive Vice-President and heads up The Seymour Group, which specializes in representing receivers, partition referees, bankruptcy trustees and institutional trusts. Phil’s wife, Sandy, who started in real estate at the same time, supervises the marketing and sale of their residential properties. Phil met Sandy when they were both musicians. She started the piano when she was 4 and then took up the violin at 6 years of age. Phil proposed after two weeks of dating, and they were married thereafter. What a combination - drums and violin! Before they met, Sandy had a successful career appearing in some of the world’s greatest concert venues including Carnegie Hall. She was also in the first Jascha Heifetz Master Class at UCLA where she auditioned for Mr. Heifetz and Gregor Piatagorsky.

It’s an interesting story how Phil got started in representing receivers. About fourteen years ago, Phil met Edythe Bronston (one of the original founders of the California Receivers Forum) through a close friend of hers who was coincidentally his former drum teacher when he first moved to L.A. Edy appreciated Phil’s real estate experience and thought he would be a good fit for representing fiduciaries. Edy subsequently employed Phil to sell 30 properties for one of her receiverships along with many others over the years, including the sale of an estate in Beverly Hills for $35,000,000.

Two years ago, Phil was elected to the California Receivers Forum (CRF) Board of Directors (Los Angeles/Orange County Chapter) and is presently Treasurer. He says "it represents an excellent opportunity for him to make a contribution to the CRF Forum."

Phil has contributed his expertise for the sales of real estate assets as a panelist at Loyola ll, lll and lV– the California Receivers Forum two-day Conference at Loyola Law School. He has also participated in multiple educational panels for the CRF held at the law firm of Buchalter Nemer in Los Angeles. His article, "Getting the Most Out of your Real Estate Broker in Sales of Real Property," appeared in the Receivership News in 2014.

Outside of real estate, his interest is, of course, music. He has been on the Board of Directors of the California Jazz Foundation (a non-profit helping jazz musicians) for 8 years and recently moved to its Advisory Board. He also is a supporter of Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA). HOLA is in partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel, to bring orchestral music to underserved children in L.A. It is a free music education program that provides participating students with intensive after-school orchestral instruction and academic tutoring.

It can’t be "all business!" Phil and Sandy love to entertain (Sandy is a gourmet cook) and having friends over for dinner with great wine and conversation, which sometime includes an occasional trip to Napa Valley.

Phil’s enthusiasm for the diversity and challenges associated with his work never wanes. But at the end of the day, Phil can go home to his drums, sit down and drum away, staying in touch with the music he loves – JAZZ!!!

Not a bad gig….."From the White House to the Courthouse."