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February 2007


REAL ESTATE

Deeds & Don'ts
By Lily Oliver

INSIDE STORIES BEHIND AREA REAL ESTATE DEALS

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Market Movements: Deals and No Deals
As the New Year dawned, the real estate market was as weird as the weather, with volatility as its only constant. During what should have been a quiet time, deals were made and abandoned with, well, abandon: There's been a high-profile foreclosure; an historic-home court case and even a sale or two.

Hedge Fund Mansion Foreclosure
In September 2005, Daniel Marino pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud charges in connection with his collapsed Bayou hedge funds, which the government claims bilked investors out of $450 million. In restitution, the Westport home for which Marino paid $2.9 million in 2003 was put up for auction on January 13. Per the attorney handling the auction, no minimum bid was set, but interested parties must have pre-qualified for the auction by presenting a cashier's check worth $2.3 million, or 10 percent of the property's assessed value. Eleven bidders were present and the highest bid was recorded, but at press time the court had not yet accepted it. According to a broker familiar with the property, Marino put a great deal of money into the place, so "if someone can pay anything near or around $3 million they are getting a deal."

Modern Master vs. Wrecking Ball
On the same day as Marino's auction, a demolition crew tore down a starkly modern home, also in Westport, designed by Bauhaus-style architect Paul Rudolph, a former dean of the Yale School of Architecture. The back story: Rudolph built the 4,200-square-foot home on Minute Man Hill in 1972 for prominent psychiatrist Dr. Louis Micheels, who put it on the market for just under $5 million in 2005.

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