Brown Harris Stevens and two of its agents were subpoenaed earlier this month to turn over information about notorious mansion flipper Janna Bullock and the swanky $51 million Hamptons estate she is trying to sell, The Real Deal has learned.
The court order is the latest twist in a case against Bullock, technically an international fugitive, that’s wended its way from Russia to Cyprus to New York.
The embattled socialite and art collector was accused in 2012 by banking giant Gazprombank of embezzling millions in Russian state money along with her ex-husband, a former finance minister in Moscow. Russian authorities said the couple diverted millions of dollars in bonds earmarked for construction projects in Moscow to fund real estate development and a lavish lifestyle.
The Russian bank sued Bullock in Cyprus, and a court there froze her assets and demanded an accounting of her finances. The court and Gazprombank say Bullock refused to comply, and turned to the U.S. courts to enforce the order.
Last month, Judge Paul Gardephe of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York wrote that Bullock appears to be violating the Cypriot court order, which froze her assets valued at more than $26.3 million. He subpoenaed Brown Harris Stevens and agents Anthony Cerio and Mitchel Natter, who were reportedly listing Bullock’s Hamptons estate.
Court records show the subpoenas were served on Aug. 3. They require BHS and the agents to hand over information related to Bullock and the Hamptons mansions, including valuations of the property and Bullock’s interest in them, as well as correspondence with prospective buyers and information about what Bullock would do with the sale proceeds.
Bullock is appealing the decision. Her attorney did not respond to a request for comment by press time. In a January 2014 court document, Bullock denies allegations of wrongdoing and argues that she is the “target of wrongful Russian corporate raiding.”
Lawyers for Gazprombank declined to comment.
Bullock listed the Hamptons properties in November. In 2005, Bullock paid $14.8 million for 210 Meadow Lane, a six-bedroom, 8,500-square-foot home with a pool, spa and tennis court that’s now asking $29 million. And in 2008, she paid $20 million for 2170 Meadow Lane, a 3,500-square-foot, four-bedroom home that’s now asking $22 million. The properties are also on the rental market, with 210 Meadow asking $1 million per year and 2170 Meadow asking $450,000 for the summer.
Bullock came to prominence developing shopping centers, office buildings and summer homes in Russia through her firm, RIGroup. Her first Manhattan project was the former New York Observer building on East 64th Street, which she bought for $9.5 million in 2004 and sold for $18.7 million a year later. In 2012, Bullock told the New York Times her real estate empire was once worth $2 billion.
She’s fallen from grace in the last few years as allegations of embezzlement stacked up. Bullock was accused of skipping payments on a pair of Upper East Side townhouses, As Well As On Her Own Park Avenue penthouse.
Bullock’s ex-husband, Alexei Kuznetsov, fled to France after his business partner was murdered. Last year, France approved his extradition to Russia, where he could face life in prison.