FURTHER LANE - Say Estate To Fetch $90 Million, De Menil sale would set national record

Originally published June 23, 2005

Despite an emphatic denial from Adelaide de Menil's assistant, a report in Tuesday's New York Post that Ms. de Menil's East Hampton estate will sell for a jaw-dropping $90 million has the South Fork real estate world in a frenzy this week.

"It is simply not true," Margit Mason, Ms. de Menil's assistant in New York, said Tuesday. She said she had fielded calls from around the country, and the world, on the story, but that the Further Lane estate had not been sold.

The Post stuck by its story yesterday, naming the buyer as "Swedish investment whiz Robert Weil," who has rented from Ms. de Menil and her husband, Edmund Carpenter, for several summers.

The rumored sale, which could not be independently confirmed, would, if it is true, set a new record for East Hampton and for the country.

"It certainly sends a loud signal to people who say the real estate bubble has burst when almost weekly new records are being set out here," Frank Newbold, an East Hampton broker, said Tuesday. "The amazing thing is how fast the records fall."

"I don't see any bubble. I don't see the possibility of a bubble," said Dolly Lenz of Prudential Douglas Elliman. Ms. Lenz is the broker who closed the $45 million deal on Burnt Point in Wainscott, the previous South Fork record, last winter. She is also representing the owner of the 15-acre property next door to Burnt Point on Georgica Pond, which is on the market for $35 million.

"The first thing he did this morning is call me," Ms. Lenz said of her client. "Because of this sale, he's going to raise his price." The reasoning, she said, is that the Georgica Pond property has "better land, is more developable, and it's really waterfront because there are no Double Dunes." Ms. Lenz has shown the de Menil property when it was for rent in the past and seemed certain on Tuesday that the rumor of a pending sale was true.

The 40-acre estate is at the edge of the protected Atlantic Double Dunes abutting a pristine stretch of ocean beach. "It's primeval. I think it's the way it looked 100 years ago, which is so rare," Mr. Newbold said. The estate is "extraordinary," he said.

The property boasts half a dozen restored 18th and 19th-century houses and barns moved there over the years by Ms. de Menil, an oil heiress and photographer, and Mr. Carpenter.

The two bought the land in 1973 and begin to acquire old buildings in need of a new home the following year. The first was the 1747 Hand house, which once stood next door to the Amagansett Farmers Market. After that, Mr. Carpenter told The New York Times in 1974, "the word was out. We were offered every old house that came on the market."

They added to their collection an 1820 house from Cutchogue; the Purple House, built in 1773 and moved from East Hampton's Main Street; an 1820 Bridgehampton barn; the 1730 Peach Farm, from Northwest Woods, and an 18th-century barn from East Hampton's North Main Street.

The property also has a two-acre manmade pond and many acres of workable farmland.

The Post said the sale was handled privately, without any broker. Such a sale is unusual, Ms. Lenz said. "Most purchasers aren't confident enough to buy without a broker," she said. Whether or not the report is true, it is likely to make more sellers, like Ms. Lenz's client, reassess the value of their high-end properties.

"If it's prime property, if it's waterfront, if it's in the estate section, it's hard to even attach a value to it," she said. However, "this really raises the bar again."

The real estate market "parallels the fine art market," Mr. Newbold said. "If it's unique, if it's the best of the breed, it commands a top price."