Montauk pagoda once asking $55M headed to foreclosure

Eli Wilner’s estate features expansive private ocean frontage and some suspect design choices

Eli Wilner and 42 Old Montauk Highway, Montauk (, OutEast)
Eli Wilner and 42 Old Montauk Highway, Montauk (, OutEast)

A Montauk mansion on the market since 2009 could finally find a buyer, but not in the way its owner has long sought.

The pagoda-style house at 42 Old Montauk Highway belongs to Eli Wilner, a framemaker whose work has ornamented art in the White House and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The estate includes 37 acres of oceanfront land, much of it undevelopable preserve, and a 485-foot private beach.

Over the years, Wilner has asked as much as $55 million (in 2016) and as little as $29 million (late 2019) for the property, but now it looks like he’ll have to settle for nothing, as a judge approved his lender’s request to foreclose on and auction his interest in the property.

New Jersey-based lender Case Real Estate Capital began its foreclosure quest in August 2018 after declaring Wilner’s $17.75 million mortgage in default. The case has since been bogged down in the court, with Wilner appealing orders granting a sale at least four times. In January 2021, he filed a Covid hardship declaration to stay the foreclosure, but the court denied the pause in June.

For over a decade, the house has bounced around among Hamptons luxury brokers, including Martha P. Gunderson and Hedgerow Exclusive Properties, but none managed to pull off a sale. One person familiar with the listing told The Real Deal the property was extremely difficult to sell because of regulations that inhibit building on the preserved land.

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The mansion features a sloping blue roof and cold, white marble floors throughout both levels. Two wraparound decks open onto ocean views, but with no pool or tennis court on the grounds, deep-pocketed buyers have settled elsewhere.

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For now, the auction will take place on Feb. 24, though Wilner may try to stop the clock again.

“There have been numerous legal deficiencies in the lender’s efforts here,” said Jason A. Stern, the attorney representing him. “My client continues to explore all options, including further appellate review.”