Two of CB Richard Ellis’ strongest sales brokers have jumped ship to Cushman & Wakefield only days after another key CBRE broker, Woody Heller, defected to tenant rep firm Studley.

Richard Baxter and Ron Cohen will join Cushman & Wakefield this week. Baxter and Cohen are well-known Manhattan investment sales brokers who worked for Insignia/ESG’s capital advisors group before July’s merger. After the merger, many Manhattan brokerage sources believed that the Baxter/Cohen team would remain at CBRE.

Yet since the merger closed, Insignia’s capital advisors group has witnessed key staff losses. Sources blame the attrition on the fact that CBRE’s top sales brokers — Darcy Stacom and Bill Shanahan — have a freehold on all Manhattan sales assignments under their CBRE contracts.

Both Shanahan and Stacom worked for Cushman & Wakefield prior to joining CBRE last year. But the Shanahan-Stacom arrangement apparently didn’t jibe with brokers such as Heller, Baxter and Cohen, who were top of the heap at Insignia.

“Rich and Ron are longtime members of our family," says Joseph Harbert, CB Richard Ellis’ vice chairman and general manager in New York City. "Even with their departure, however, we still have the No. 1 investment sales team in New York and our clients will continue to be well served by Darcy Stacom, Bill Shanahan and their colleagues, who have sold an average of more than $1 billion of New York City properties annually for the past five years.”