Records, they say, are made to be broken. We just don’t always know how quickly they’ll be shattered, so the shockwave was shared by casual fans of the real estate game and industry insiders alike when The New York Post broke the news last weekend that the $120 million deal for Copper Beech Farm in Greenwich, Connecticut—which went down less than three weeks ago—had already been eclipsed as the most expensive residential property in the United States. East Hampton is home to the new champ, the 18-acre estate at 60 Further Lane that sold for $147 million to Jana Partners hedge fund manager Barry Rosenstein.
The beachfront property renowned for its stunning gardens was the former home of Tweedy, Browne Company managing director Christopher H. Browne, who died in 2009, and his partner, architect Andrew Gordon, who passed away last fall. Browne had originally bought the property in the late 1990s, and eventually replaced the old 1950s home with a new one designed
The record-setting price tag certainly generated the first wave of excitement, but the East End real estate world has also been abuzz about the reports that no broker was used in the deal. Rather, Browne’s relatives directly sold the home, the Post later reported, to Rosenstein, who used to run Sagaponack Partners and came in at #29 on the 2013 Forbes list of Highest-Earning Hedge Fund Managers.
Terms like “furious” and “crestfallen” were used to describe the reactions of brokers here on the East End.
“You’re in such rarefied air with this one, it seems like none of the regular rules apply,” says one broker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Statistically speaking, using a broker gets you a higher price and the house stays on the market for a shorter period of time, so the idea that they could have gotten even more money by using a broker has its merits.”
As for what the historic payout could do to other home prices here, particularly on the ultra-high end, the broker believes it’s a sign that Wall Street money is again ready to fuel the resurgence—and that will “keep things climbing across multiple price points,” he adds. But he offers a caveat.
“When we’re talking about properties at this price level, properties with so many unique attributes—whethers it’s the location, the number of acres, if it’s on the ocean, if you’re next door to Jerry Seinfeld—the notion of ‘comparable sales’ isn’t exactly applied the same way as in other types of sales,” the broker says with a laugh. “It is an interesting barometer of what the rest of the market will bear, however. Nothing, it seems, it out of the realm of possibility. Remember when Alex Rodriguez signed his contract with Texas, people were like, Are we really going to pay $250 million for a baseball player? $25 million a year? And look what happened.
“Prices have returned in a big way in the Hamptons already this year,” the broker continues. “And by all indications, it’s probably going to get hotter.”
The Next Most Expensive Sales in U.S. History: Counting Down the Top 5
With all due respect to our friends across the Long Island Sound, the most expensive home in the country is where it belongs, here in the Hamptons. Rounding out the Top 5…
2. $120 million
Where: Copper Beech Farm, Greenwich, CT
When: April 2014
3. $117.5 million
Where: Mountain Home Road, Woodside, CA
When: January 2013
4. $102 million
Where: Fleur de Lys, Holmby Hills, CA
When: March 2014
5. $100 million
Where: Silicon Valley
When: March 2011
For more Hamptons real estate coverage, including a forecast of the summer season, tips for a happy summer rental and the Top 5 Most Expensive Homes on the Market in the Hamptons, don’t miss the special all-glossy “Behind the Hedges” in this week’s Dan’s Papers.