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April 2010

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Deeds & Don'ts
By Lily Oliver and Aime Dunstan


March, in real estate, usually comes in lamblike, as the roster of spring listings starts to grow and buyers, in turn, begin emerging from their winter hibernation to have a look around. Not so this year, with news of celebrity price drops, listings changing hands and, oh yes, a few sales kicking off the spring market with a lion-like roar.

Most of the roaring came out of Greenwich, starting with news of a change in representation for Dunnellen Hall, the estate owned by the late Leona Helmsley. David Ogilvy & Associates put the 40-acre property on the market two years ago for a record-setting $125 million, an ask that led to a second record—for price drops—when it was reduced by nearly half to $65 million. In Greenwich Time, Dunnellen's new broker Lyn Stevens of Greenwich Fine Properties indicated that her representation was "going to be a friendlier process." She now offers the 23,000-square-foot estate for $55 million.

PEQUOT PERFECTION (click photo for larger view)

In related news across state lines, another estate owned by a wealthy heiress—Brooke Astor—has also been reduced from $12.9 to $10.5 million, after its furnishings were removed in an effort to "save on significant security and maintenance costs," according to The Daily News, who also reported that Mrs. Astor's long-time butler was let go (though we hear he was outstanding in his services, we fear that his kind of job is hard to come by these days). The contents of Holly Hill, worth an estimated $3.4 million, will be auctioned by Sotheby's.

The most luxe new listing in Greenwich is being sold by famed interior designer Cindy Rinfret, who has beautified the Greenwich homes of Tommy Hilfiger and Regis Philbin, among others. More on this below.

As for recent sales, we hear that Daniel Mudd has purchased a home in Greenwich. Another guy who lost a hard-to-replace job, Mudd is the former Fannie Mae CEO who was ousted when the government took over operations in 2008. Mudd and his wife, Maura, spent $6.45 million on a 15,000-square-foot stone-and-shingle manse on about two acres, reports The Wall Street Journal. Finally, an unconfirmed rumor has it that actor Mel Gibson has purchased a condo at the Oneida, a collection of Greenwich Harbor residences that start at $4,250,000. Gibson has struggled to sell his 75-acre Old Mill Farm, also in Greenwich. First listed in 2007, it's now offered at $29,750,000.

LODGE HERE (click photo for larger view)

Here is our own collection of noteworthy residences, from a New Canaan estate to a Norwalk rental. Happy hunting!


It was a labor of love to renovate this waterfront Modern. Luckily we can all share in said love, now that the house is offered as a rental for $6,000 per month. Landscape architect and urban designer Thomas Balsey and his wife, Sarah Wappler Balsley, is also a designer, worked together to bring this jewel box of a home back to life. Perched high above the inlets and waterways of the Long Island Sound, it now offers five bedrooms and three bathrooms (plus one half bathroom), including an 800-square-foot master suite with stunning water views. The property is located in a waterfront community with a beach, tennis courts and a marina. To soak up a little sun yourself, call Elizabeth Falsey of Halstead Property Wheeler, (203) 656-6595.