The Real Deal New York

In the Hamptons: Big rents, bigger personalities

The colorful cast of Hamptons homeowners trying to rent their mansions
for mega amounts this season, and how they've fared
By C.J. Hughes | July 01, 2015 07:00AM

BIG RENTS, BIGGERCelebrity doctors. Notorious lawyers. Philanthropists. Hedge funders. And, of course, real estate players. They are all among the East End homeowners looking to rent their Hamptons properties for astronomically high prices this year.

At the start of the summer season, The Real Deal pulled the priciest full-season rentals available on Hamptons Real Estate Online, a leading East End listing database. Then, in a first, TRD matched those listings with the owners behind them, using property records. We also tried to determine whether they actually rented for their listed amounts.

What we found was multiple homes with asking prices of over $1 million for the Memorial Day to Labor Day stretch — plus a slew of others asking well over $600,000.

We also uncovered a colorful cast of characters. One owner has been a dentist to the Rolling Stones. Another has been accused of hiring prostitutes.

But many of these boldfaced names have been unsuccessful in finding renters.

“The high end has been slow so far,” said Douglas Elliman’s Carol Nobbs. Until early last month, Nobbs was marketing a $1 million rental in Water Mill. Without any full-season takers, the owner pulled it as a rental, though left it on the sales market with a roughly $21 million asking price.

Like that property, a number of these mega rentals are also up for sale, though sussing out information in this notoriously opaque market is never easy. For starters, many of the properties are on the market as “open” listings, meaning multiple brokers are marketing them in a sort of free for all. Some listings are, however, exclusives or co-exclusives, but are not necessarily labeled as such.

Below is a sampling of some of the more colorful owners who had listed their homes for mega amounts (some as much as $1.6 million), at the start of the season.

38 Two Mile Hollow Road, East Hampton:
$1.6 million

38 TWO MILE HOLLOW ROAD, EAST HAMPTON: $1.6 MILLION

East Hampton’s 38 Two Mile Hollow Road was up for rent for $1.6 million at the start of the season. Left, Corcoran Group’s Susan Breitenbach, who’s marketing the property. Right, lobbyist Liz Robbins, who sold a home previously on this site, which was later replaced with this new construction house

Asking a hefty $1.6 million in rent for the full season, this eight-bedroom waterfront home was the most expensive of the bunch. But despite it now being a month into the season, at press time it had yet to rent.

Why the astronomical price tag? It’s one of the only new-construction homes with a good stretch (200 feet) of direct oceanfront real estate, said the Corcoran Group’s Susan Breitenbach, who had the listing last month along with two other firms. The house replaced a home owned by Washington, D.C.-based power lobbyist and Clinton friend Liz Robbins, who, according to property records sold it in 2007 to an unnamed buyer for $16 million.

Robbins’ home, which was dubbed “Beautiful Joy,” was knocked down to make way for the new one, which was completed in 2013 and promptly listed for $45 million.

However, the current property — which has a pool, tennis court and cabana — did not sell and is now on the market for $39.9 million.

Elliman, Sotheby’s International Realty and Corcoran are sharing the rental and sales listings.

On the rental front, Breitenbach said, “It got off to a slow start, but it’s getting busier.”

160 Ox Pasture Road, Southampton Village:
$1.2 million

160 Ox Pasture Road, Southampton Village: $1.2 million

Southampton’s 160 Ox Pasture Road was asking $1.2 million at the start of the season. German business mogul Jürgen Friedrich, who owns the home, also has it on the market for $45 million.

This 12-bedroom Georgian-style estate, which was asking $1.2 million for the summer rental season, appears to have been sitting on the sales market for seven years.

The home — which was designed by architect Grosvenor Atterbury and completed in 1915 — goes by the name Linden and is currently listed for $45 million, down from $55 million in 2008, according to news reports.

Its owner, German business mogul Jürgen Friedrich, who founded the European operations of Esprit Holdings, the apparel giant, had a net worth of $1 billion in 2008, according to Forbes.

He hasn’t been on the magazine’s list of billionaires since and is currently retired in Switzerland, according to Esprit’s website, though he still serves on its board.

Still, he stands to make a pretty penny if the home, which includes bocce and tennis courts, gets anywhere near the asking price. He bought the estate in 2002 for $8.5 million, according to news reports. The property was reportedly under contract in 2012, but then went back on the market.

A representative for Friedrich declined to comment. The Global Group’s David Schiffman, Corcoran’s Tim Davis and Elliman’s Luisa Keszler, who are all marketing the property as a rental, did not respond for requests for comment. (Keszler is also marketing the home for sale.)

271 Dune Road, Bridgehampton:
$1.2 million

271 Dune Road, Bridgehampton:  $1.2 million

Marc Lowenberg, a dentist to the stars, put this Water Mill house and an adjacent guest house up on the rental market for $1 million.

Gary and Barbara Siegler own this oceanfront Bridgehampton property and had it up for rent for a massive $1.2 million, according to HREO.

The couple runs an eponymous foundation, which launched in 2010 and has since donated to organizations ranging from the Fresh Air Fund to Planned Parenthood to the Central Park Conservancy, according to the foundation’s website.

Gary Siegler, however, made his money in finance, working with corporate raider Carl Icahn and then co-founding the SC Fundamental Value Fund, a hedge fund.

In 2013, the Sieglers landed in the headlines when they filed a wide-ranging lawsuit against Miami’s historic and exclusive Surf Club — a nine-acre waterfront resort that Winston Churchill and other high-profile guests have frequented — where they were members and shareholders. Among other things, the Sieglers claimed they were harassed and suspended after complaining that the controversial $116 million price the club sold for in 2012 was too low. The buyer, a Turkish developer, is modernizing the complex with tall Richard Meier-designed glass towers that will contain 150 condos. A pared-down version of the lawsuit is currently pending in court. 

Sources say the couple’s Hamptons house is not for sale, and as of the middle of last month, the rental listing was still posted, suggesting it had not found a taker.

Sotheby’s Harald Grant, an agent on the listing, did not return calls for comment. A call left with the Sieglers’ foundation was not returned.

But with controversy surrounding their Miami apartment, perhaps the Sieglers will be content to stay put on the East End.

535 and 553 Flying Point Road, Water Mill:
$1 million

535 and 553 Flying Point Road, Water Mill: $1 million

Marc Lowenberg, a dentist to the stars, put this Water Mill house and an adjacent guest house up on the rental market for $1 million.

Manhattan cosmetic dentist Marc Lowenberg — who has worked with celebrity clients including the Rolling Stones, Heidi Klum and Chris Rock — is asking $1 million for the season for his two adjoining Hamptons properties.

The listing includes an eight-bedroom main house and a three-bedroom guest cottage. The “compound” sits behind the protection of an electric gate, according to the listing, which is held exclusively by Elliman’s Nobbs.  The two parcels, which can be separated, are also for sale with a $20.9 million price tag.

While Lowenberg had yet to find any rental takers as of press time, he seemed unfazed. He told TRD that he leased his home for April, May and June for a total of $275,000. Plus, he said others have been interested in renting it for short stays, like 4th of July weekend. “But this is not a bed-and-breakfast,” he said. “It would just be a hassle.”

For the last five years, Lowenberg said he has rented the property — last year it was listed at $1 million for the season, though it’s unclear what it rented for. He added that he usually has someone swoop in at the last minute.

“The house has every bell and whistle,” Lowenberg said, citing a sauna, gym and 15-seat movie theater.

But Lowenberg, who along with his dental partners at Lowenberg, Lituchy & Kantor, is a regular go-to media source on dental trends like teeth whitening, is looking to unload the home. He is getting married soon, and his fiancée does not want to live in the house because he lived there with his ex-wife, he said.

82 Pheasant Close North, Southampton Village:
$850,000

82 Pheasant Close North, Southampton Village: $850,000

Southampton’s 82 Pheasant Close North, which was asking $850,000 for the season, is owned by Manhattan broker Victoria Shtainer.

This nine-bedroom home belongs to Manhattan real estate broker Victoria Shtainer and her husband Alfred Shtainer, an urologist.

After 12 years at Elliman, Victoria Shtainer, decamped for upstart brokerage Compass in May. At Elliman, Shtainer, a former a litigator for Allstate Insurance, handled about $500 million in sales, mostly in Manhattan, she said.

Completed in December 2014, the new-construction Pheasant Close North home replaced a house the Shtainers bought in 2013 for $2.6 million.

At the start of the season, that new house, a 1.8-acre spread with 11 baths, a pool and tennis court, was listed for rent at $850,000 in an open listing.

Though the couple didn’t rent it for the full season, they did get a July tenant, who will be paying “over $200,000,” Shtainer said. At press time, the house was still available for August with an asking price of $300,000.

For her part, Shtainer is spending time in Saint Tropez, France, for a few weeks this month.

“I haven’t been to Europe in the summer for a long time,” said Shtainer, who was born in Ukraine when it was still part of the Soviet Union.

In Manhattan, meanwhile, the couple lives at One Beacon Court, where Shtainer has also brokered a number of deals.

396 Meadow Lane, Southampton Village:
$800,000

396 Meadow Lane, Southampton Village: $800,000

Attorney Mark Heller

Mark Heller, a criminal defense attorney whose clients have run the gamut from “Son of Sam” serial killer David Berkowitz to troubled actress Lindsay Lohan, owns this 10-bedroom. At the start of the season, the price tag was $800,000.

Heller is as colorful as his clients. So much so that in 2010, the New York Times published a nearly 3,000-word profile of him, tracing his entire career and noting that his “on-and-off law firm” Heller & Heller “can be seen as two parts of the same person: ‘Good Mark’ and ‘Bad Mark.’”

On the “bad” side, in the 1990s a judicial panel temporarily suspended Heller’s law license for misconduct, including stealing money from his clients, according to news reports.

He appears to be back to practicing, but he could not be reached for comment.

Nonetheless, this is not the first time that Heller has put his home up for rent.

A “Saudi royal” leased it for $20,000 — a night — in 2012, said Halstead Property’s Gabriel Falco, who is marketing it this season along with Global Group, Elliman and Nest Seekers International.

The 7,000-square-foot, somewhat dated 1930s-era house sits on three acres and is discreetly tucked into the dunes.

In June, Heller had not yet found a renter for the property, which has 350 feet of ocean frontage, according to Falco. But, Falco noted, someone from the Middle East had inquired about taking it from July 1 through September 15, for “near close to ask.”

He added that, “it is little higher than [the renter] wanted, but there aren’t a lot of choices.”

In the meantime, Falco said Heller and his family are using the house, which is not up for sale.

210 Meadow Lane, Southampton Village:
$750,000

210 Meadow Lane, Southampton Village: $750,000

Southampton’s 210 Meadow Lane is owned by Russian socialite Janna Bullock and was up for rent for $750,000.

Just down the beach from Heller, is this six-bedroom home, which was listed as a full-season rental for $750,000. It’s owned by an LLC named Mid-Summer Dream, which is connected to Janna Bullock, a Russian socialite and real estate investor clouded with financial issues.

Bullock is accused of both failing to pay about $42,000 in common charges at her penthouse condo at 120 East 87th Street, as well as loans on two townhouses on East 82nd Street, according to news reports.

In addition, a few years ago, she was forced to step down from the board of the Guggenheim Museum after her then-husband Alexei Kuznetsov — the couple divorced in 2013 — was charged in Russia with stealing hundreds of millions of rubles. If convicted, he faces life in prison in Russia.

The 8,500-square-foot home is also listed for sale last at $29 million, a hefty increase from the roughly $15 million Bullock paid for it in 2005, according to news reports. A phone number connected to Bullock’s New York office was disconnected; an email to her was not returned.

James Giugliano, a broker at Nest Seekers who is marketing the rental, declined to comment; Elliman, Global Properties and Brown Harris Stevens also appear to be marketing it.

Aaron Kaufman, an agent with Town & Country Real Estate, who is on the sale listing, did not return a call for comment.

65 First Neck Lane, Southampton Village:
$750,000

65 First Neck Lane, Southampton Village: $750,000

Southampton’s 65 First Neck Lane is owned by lawyer Marc Bern.

Scandal also swirls around this Neck Lane nine-bedroom, which was listed for rent at $750,000 early in the season. But the home was pulled off the rental market because it sold, according to Brown Harris Stevens’ Mary Terry, one of several agents on the open rental listing.

Owner Marc Bern, a Sept. 11 injury lawyer, could not be reached for comment.

But Bern might be busy. He’s locked in a nasty spat with his law partner Paul Napoli, who in a lawsuit accused Bern of hiring prostitutes and forcing an office receptionist into oral sex at a firm Christmas party.

However, related court proceedings revealed that Napoli himself stands accused of mismanaging firm funds, which he denies. Meanwhile, lawyers for Bern deny any wrongdoing and say Napoli’s claims are nothing more than a diversion.

The sales price had not yet hit public records at press time. Bern bought the property for $7 million in 2000.

34 Cobb Hill Lane, Water Mill:
$600,000

This 10-bedroom belongs to Daniel Shak, a former hedge-fund investor who in 2013 was banned by federal officials from trading crude oil after having manipulated the markets. It was listed for $600,000 for the season.

Shak, who could not be reached, is also a semi-pro poker player. Sotheby’s Deborah Srb did not return a call; it also appeared to be listed with Elliman and Coldwell Banker Beau Hulse Realty Group

The home does not appear to be up for sale. According to StreetEasy it last sold for $8.5 million in 2010.

Additional research by Will Parker and Jennifer White Karp