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Property world pays tribute to industry veteran Michael Brecker

Stanley Michael Brecker, an iconic and revered figure on the London commercial property scene for more than 60 years has died at the age of 91.

Known as Michael, he co-founded the property firm Brecker Grossmith with his partner, the late Stanley Grossmith in 1956. 

From humble beginnings - developing the business from a small 4th floor room in 63 WIgmore Street in the West End of London - the founders grew the company into one of the best known and dynamic agencies of its day.


Its marketing boards adorned properties across the capital and in the heyday and afterglow of the 1960s commercial property boom, the firm employed more than 70 people occupying the entire floors of both 63 and 65 Wigmore Street.

Brecker Grossmith handled schemes for and advised property magnates such Sir Max (later Lord) Rayne, creator of Merchant Securities which merged with Derwent Valley to become Derwent London, Harry Hyams who developed one of London's first skyscrapers Centre Point and property development company Hammerson among many others.

Other clients included Jack and Philip Rose, in whose memory the Rose Foundation was established for building projects.  

Michael’s son Richard Brecker, the current co-owner of the business, said: “My dad was a trailblazer and a live wire and I am immensely proud of all he achieved and the legacy he leaves behind. 

“He not only helped create a renowned and respected property business, he built a brand and laid down an infrastructure to enable us to survive all the recessions of the past 66 years. He was eccentric, enchanting, exciting, unconventional and a whirlwind of ideas and joie de vivre. Impossible, incorrigible but always inspirational. 

"With my father at the helm, Brecker Grossmith was well known for training generations of leading agency negotiators and chartered surveyors by instilling a strong work ethic, giving staff a chance and allowing them to flourish.  It is a reputation and tradition we are proud to uphold to this day."

Brecker Grossmith is one of the oldest chartered surveyors in the West End to remain in family control. 

It continues to buy and sell investments for clients while handling rent collection and lease advisory work including lease renewals and rent reviews. 

Brecker Grossmith pioneered modern office developments in previously residential terraces such as Eastbourne Terrace in Bayswater which was developed as a fourteen-storey tower between several six-storey office blocks between 1958–62. Another development was John Street in WC1 and other projects that helped to change the appearance of the capital.

The firm also pioneered ‘parades’ of shops in the style of St Christopher’s Place in London and typically ten-shop parades in new housing developments in Margate, Canterbury and King's Lynn.

In recent years, Brecker Grossmith has been responsible for managing the transformation of Smiths' Court a client development in Soho and the firm engineered an off-market opportunity in 2018 to introduce a 28,000 sq ft space in the London Pavilion in Piccadilly Circus for Body Worlds, one of the world’s most successful travelling exhibitions.

Properties still under management include the Fiorucci fashion retail shop and headquarters on Brewer Street and James Smith and Sons Umbrellas on New Oxford Street.  It has remained virtually unaltered in over 170 years.

Stanley Michael Brecker (known as Michael ) was born in the Salvation Army Mothers' Hospital in Hackney, east London on 14th December 1930.

His father Jack was a sought after tailor who made costumes for films such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang while his mother Connie was a corsetière and dress maker.

He was educated at the Shonfield Jewish School in Stamford Hill and Hendon Technical College. 

He also studied at the College of Estate Management where he met his partner to be Stanley Grossmith and after spells at firms such as Basil Temple estate agents in Finchley, he worked as a surveyor at the Corporation of London and Granada Theatres. 

At Granada he was inspired by the direct, no-nonsense approach of legendary media mogul Sidney Bernstein, the group's founding chairman.

Away from commercial property where he became a fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, a registered valuer and Arbitrator and a Freeman of the City of London, he was a regular attendee of the Lodge of Good Intention with his brother Howard Brecker, the co-founder of property firm Robert Irving and Burns.

He was a well-known character in Marylebone and in Belsize Park in north London where he lived. He was a voracious reader and also a keen painter. 

His artworks were widely sold and he exhibited as far afield as the prestigious Arts Club in London and Aviary Park in Bournemouth where he enjoyed holidaying for some 40 years.  

Brecker Grossmith's chairman Paul Tracey paid tribute to Michael as "a successful businessman, a highly entertaining character and a true gentleman, who will be sadly missed. Rest in peace, Michael."

Former BG employee John Miles of Canadian Portland said: "I learned so much working with Michael and really enjoyed it: a rare opportunity in life. It is the end of an era."

Alan Scott, global chairman of Ian Scott International, said: "So sorry to learn of his passing. He always was such a commanding figure."

Ian Krendel of Ian Krendel Property Consultants said: "I have many fond and everlasting memories of Michael especially his dynamic and inventive thinking which made it both educational and exciting for anybody who worked in that office – he will be sadly missed by us all.
Former Brecker Grossmith agent, Samuel May of May & Company Real Estate Advisors, said: "Terribly saddened, Michael, or SMB as he was referred to in the office, was a real inspiration in my early career, a wise mentor who I learnt a lot from. 

“Two particular things which he said to me have always stayed with me throughout my career: Never make clients' minds up for them and to do business all you need is a pen and a phone.’

“Both of these teachings, and many more, have stayed with me, and I was privileged to have worked under him. "

Henry Caroll, former head of agency at Brecker Grossmith and now head of real estate at Diverse Dining, said: " I'm sure I'm one of many former BG employees to have been truly inspired by Michael and what he achieved, and he always put a smile on my face when he came into the office. A great man who I'll always remember. "

Another former Brecker Grossmith negotiator Simon Korn said: "I am really sorry to hear the sad news. I enjoyed my time working at BG who were one of the leading and most progressive firms of their generation led by Michael Brecker,"

Michael is survived by his three sons, Richard, Nicholas and Stephen.

  • Algarve  Investor

    Some great tributes there. A life well-lived and a great legacy, for sure. RIP.


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