Auction for snakebit Hamptons estate goes awry

Scheduled sale called off as court-appointed referee fails to show

The World School founder Chris Whittle and an aerial view of 90 and 100 Briar Patch Road in East Hampton (Getty, Google Maps)
The World School founder Chris Whittle and an aerial view of 90 and 100 Briar Patch Road in East Hampton (Getty, Google Maps)

A long drama at the former East Hampton mansion of private-school entrepreneur Christopher Whittle might have ended Tuesday, but something went wrong — as it often does at the embattled estate.

The bad breaks continued when officials gathered for an auction to pay the Georgica property’s $85 million debt. They waited and waited for the court-appointed referee, but he never showed.

The second foreclosure sale in two years of the property, which is listed for $95 million, will be rescheduled, according to the creditor, Pure East Global Investments Limited.

“We appeared at the auction site prepared to proceed yesterday and stayed for over two hours after the scheduled time,” Pure East attorney Robin Muir of Goodwin Procter said in an email. “The referee, however, did not appear (and could not be reached by telephone during this time).”

The referee, Cornelius Rogers, told The Real Deal he was traveling from Florida to Long Island around the time of the scheduled auction and didn’t know why it was canceled.

The 11.2-acre property at 90 and 100 Briar Patch Road, which the future Avenues: The World School founder bought in 1989 for $7.3 million, was sold in June 2021 to the school — which Whittle left in 2015 — for a $700,000 credit bid after he borrowed millions of dollars from Avenues and didn’t repay it, Dirt reported.

As part of the deal, Avenues assumed a mortgage that Whittle took out on the property to fund his subsequent education venture, Whittle School & Studios.

At the time of the 2021 auction, an Avenues spokesperson said Whittle owed the for-profit school $6.7 million and hadn’t made a payment since 2019. Avenues later transferred its interest in the properties to Avenues Landco, LLC.

But the sale didn’t get Whittle out of the woods.

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Pure East Global Investments Limited had provided a $25.4 million commercial loan to Whittle in 2017, as well as a $25 million convertible loan to Global Education Investments, Behind The Hedges reported.

Pure East brought Whittle to court in March 2022 and a judge issued judgments in August in favor of the lender, court records show.

Rogers, the referee, calculated that $40.1 million was due on Whittle’s loan and $44.6 million was due on the loan to Global Education Investments. The referee noted that the estate should be sold to help pay the $84.75 million.

The public auction was supposed to start at 11 a.m. at East Hampton Town Hall.

Though the properties are listed for $95 million by Bespoke, which touts 10 bedrooms spread over 13,800 square feet and over 1,550 feet of water frontage, it is far from certain that an auction would cover the two judgments. The  East Hampton Town Assessor valued the two lots at only $32 million, Behind The Hedges reported.

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Known as the Shepard Krech House, the estate hit the market in 2001 for $45 million and reappeared in 2014 with a price tag of $140 million. At one point, Whittle’s listing was the 7th most expensive in the U.S.

A representative for Whittle could not be reached for comment.