Tall tale: Nest Seekers’ “$50M” Amagansett sale was actually $16.5M

Buyer Steven Berkson’s lawyer files complaint over agents’ handling of deal

Tri-State /
Jul.July 23, 2021 03:15 PM
Photo illustration of Nest Seekers' Dylan Eckardt and the Amagansett property (iStock, Nest Seekers)

Photo illustration of Nest Seekers’ Dylan Eckardt and the Amagansett property (iStock, Nest Seekers)

For three weeks, Dylan Eckardt has been reveling in the success of a $50 million deal that never happened.

The Nest Seekers International agent, who crowned himself the “Prince of Montauk” in a 2016 Vanity Fair interview, proudly posted July 1 on Instagram the lofty sale of a vacant development site along Montauk Highway.

“I represented the seller and the buyer on one of the Hamptons biggest transactions this year,” Eckardt wrote. “9.4 acres ocean front in Amagansett.. @nestseekers 50million [sic].” Nearly 8,000 of the broker’s 71,900 followers liked the post.

About a week later, he shared a black-and-white shot of himself with Eddie Shapiro, Nest Seekers’ founder and CEO, with the braggadocious caption: “When you close deals like I close the #CEO brings the checks to you.” He punctuated the thought with a crown emoji.

In reality, the Amagansett property was sold for $16.5 million, less than a third of the asking price, according to multiple sources involved in the deal and a closing document viewed by The Real Deal.

“Dylan did what every broker does. He self-promoted.”

Eddie Shapiro, Nest Seekers CEO

Behind the Hedges, a publication owned by Dan’s Papers, was the first publication to report the correct price, citing Adam Miller, an attorney who worked on the deal, as its source. But the publication had initially reported it as a $50 million sale, an account that was picked up by TRD and later corrected.

How did it happen? The illusion of Eckardt’s $50 million deal was given credence on Nest Seekers’s Instagram account where a caption accompanying the listing photos called the closed deal “one of the most iconic transactions in the Hamptons this year.”

The brokerage said the sale closed after “multiple bids” and was handled by Eckardt and its “chief evangelist” Shawn Elliott, whose Long Island-based firm was acquired by Nest Seekers in 2017. He now heads Nest Seekers’ ultra-luxury division.

Then Behind the Hedges reported it as “a $50 million all cash transaction with a 24-hour close” and named commodities trader Steven Berkson as the buyer. According to the story, a day after the deal closed, Eckardt fielded a $52 million offer and he presented it to Berkson, but his client turned it down.

“Big things happening for the Prince in 2021,” wrote Taylor Vecsey, Hedges’ editor-in-chief, who authored the piece.

Sources with direct knowledge say the wrong deal price is far from the only oddity in the transaction — and, in an unusual turn, at least one party wants Eckardt and Nest Seekers to be reprimanded.

Attorney Michael Koblenz, who represents the buyer, said he has filed a complaint against Nest Seekers, Eckardt and Elliott with the Department of State, which investigates alleged misconduct by licensed real estate agents and brokers.

The complaint alleges that the brokerage and agents “grossly misrepresented and exaggerated the circumstances of the transaction” and revealed personal details such as Berkson’s identity.

A source involved in the deal said it was Shapiro who handled the transaction for Berkson, not Eckardt or Elliott; there was no bidding war and no $52 million offer afterward; and it took nearly two months, not 24 hours, to close the deal after the contract was signed. The closing document viewed by TRD confirmed the time frame.

The source also said that Nest Seekers and the trader had a verbal agreement that his identity would be kept secret. The account is consistent with records that show Berkson bought the site, which consists of four parcels, through four limited liability companies, the vehicle of choice for buyers who want to keep their identity under wraps.

Nest Seekers and its agents, Eckardt and Elliott, deny they did anything wrong. Shapiro said they followed the industry standard of announcing the closing of the Amagansett deal with only the “last ask.”

“There’s always going to be a hater. People just need to use my name to be relevant.”

Dylan Eckardt, Nest Seekers agent

In the listing photo shared by Eckardt and Nest Seekers, small, white text that almost fades into the horizon of the Atlantic Ocean shows $50 million as the last asking price. Nest Seekers also noted the $50 million was the asking price in its caption.

Shapiro said he was aware that Eckardt called Hedges to share that he had closed a big deal but the chief executive said his agent “swears” he didn’t reveal Berkson as the buyer. In a separate interview, Eckardt denied disclosing the price or Berkson’s name.

“Dylan did what every broker does. He self-promoted,” said Shapiro. The chief executive blamed the inaccurate reporting of the price for getting his agent in hot water. But when the Hedges story (and later TRD’s) called it a $50 million sale, Nest Seekers did not request a correction.

“No one called us,” he said. “So we left it. Let it be what it’s going to be.”

Shapiro denied that he, not Elliott and Eckardt, had brokered the deal, as did the agents. The three men were also steadfast that they did get multiple bids on the project. Shapiro also had an explanation for the final sale price being well below ask.

“The terms of the transactions matter for sellers sometimes more than the price. In this particular case, the terms mattered,” he said. “It was a function of who can close, how fast, what are the contingencies.”

In February, Eckardt had told Hedges he’d received multiple all-cash offers for more than $30 million in the first three days that the Amagansett property listed.

Eckardt, the only member of Nest Seekers who continues to deny the price was only $16.5 million, maintained that he did receive $30 million-plus offers. He said the final deal was one that had “less contingencies and the highest price.”

A source with knowledge of the deal confirmed Berkson’s purchase was all cash. Berkson, who has been called a “stalwart” among traders of natural gas futures, did not respond to a request for comment, nor did the sellers, George and Peggy Stankevich.

Eckardt painted himself as the victim of an anonymous smear campaign.

“There’s always going to be a hater,” said Eckardt. “People just need to use my name to be relevant.”

Elliott, who until now has not posted or said anything publicly about the deal, said he did not believe it would harm his reputation.

“I thought we handled it quite well,” said Elliott, who had shared the listing with Eckardt. “This is clearly just another real estate transaction and that’s it.”

Not everyone was fooled by the $50 million price, however. One local industry insider said that amount for the four parcels between 2012 and 2024 on Montauk Highway didn’t sound right, in part because of its proximity to a popular takeout joint.

“This is directly across from the Clam Bar,” the person said. “It’s a restaurant that gets 75 cars parked outside of it every night.”

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