« Back to Previous Page | Real Estate»Agents»Paul Brennan

Paul Brennan

Paul Brennan
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker

2488 Main Street
Bridgehampton, NY 11932
Office: 631.537.4144
Mobile: 631.235.9611

2987 Montauk Highway
Sagaponack, NY 11962
Office: 631.537.4144
Mobile: 631.381.2887
Fax: 631.537.9104

email me »
download vCard »

In the News

The Unsold Warhol

ON the eastern tip of Long Island, 120 miles from Manhattan, the morning light shines first upon the Montauk Moorlands, a brooding wind-blown range of craggy bluffs where ocean waves curl and crash against the rocky shore more than 30 feet below.

It’s an extreme place compared with the rest of Long Island’s South Fork, which is better known for its privet-hedge-entombed mansions (both old and McNew) to the west and the blue-chip summer homes on Further Lane in East Hampton that sell at eye-popping prices — $25 million, $30 million, $43 million — even when the real estate market elsewhere is soft.

But stark Montauk has always been a draw for the congested souls of artists, writers and musicians who seek the edge. So it’s no surprise that Andy Warhol, a master of extremes, felt a kinship with Montauk’s topography and lack of pretension. But he also shared Montauk with the hippest and the hottest names of his time: Halston, Liza Minnelli, Elizabeth Taylor, the Rolling Stones.

And that’s just a small part of the Who’s Who that once lounged at Eothen, then a 20-acre estate in a valley amid the moors that Warhol and his manager and film collaborator at the time, Paul Morrissey, bought for about $225,000 in 1971. Mr. Morrissey still owns 5.6 acres of the estate, with a compound of five homes, a stable and a three-car garage. The whole windswept collection, with 600 feet bordering the Atlantic Ocean, is for sale for $40 million.

It would be more accurate, though, to say that the property is still for sale. The price came down this summer from $50 million in 2001 (later lowered to $45 million) and now awaits a visionary buyer at a cool $10 million discount.

The revolving door of top East End real estate agents who have struggled with the listing the last five years includes Tina Fredericks, the broker who sold Mr. Morrissey and Warhol the property 35 years ago.

In 1971, Warhol was bored with being driven around to see houses and spent most of the time snapping Polaroids of other people in the car, Ms. Fredericks recalled recently. But he perked up as he noticed the “sort of funky air” of the village of Montauk and the Memory Motel.

The village is still a place untouched by Citarella or the pool-blue awning of Tiffany & Company, a rugged fisherman’s town where shark-fishing competitions are promoted on signs near the entrance to the village.

Eothen lies outside the village, up a winding dirt road that ends on a 30-foot cliff that overlooks the Atlantic. “I just remember him liking it immediately and buying it — boom, like that,” together with Mr. Morrissey, Ms. Fredericks said. But Warhol didn’t visit often, she said. “He had a lot of problems with the wind, which took his hairpiece off.”

PERHAPS because of the effect on his famous silver wigs (one sold in June at auction for $10,800) combined with the artist’s fair skin, Mr. Morrissey said, Warhol wasn’t much of a beachgoer. Initially, he “wasn’t interested in the house, he was interested in the investment end of it, I would say,” Mr. Morrissey said. “Although he got to love the house.”

The men were in the process of dividing the property — about 15 acres would go to Warhol, and the rest, including a compound of oceanfront houses, to Mr. Morrissey — when Warhol died in 1987 after gall bladder surgery. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts later donated the 15 acres to the Nature Conservancy, which created the Andy Warhol Preserve in 1993.

But even with its storied history as a retreat for the in-crowd of the 1970’s and 1980’s — add to the guest list Lee Radziwill; her sister, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; the artist Julian Schnabel; and the countless models and actresses who rested their lean, weary selves at Eothen — the houses on the compound are too rustic, many brokers say, to bring $40 million.

“It’s charming, it’s nice, it has a cachet to it, but you’re not getting $40 million or $50 million for it,” said Paul Brennan, an agent at Prudential Douglas Elliman and manager of the firm’s Hamptons offices. Mr. Brennan previously listed Eothen at $45 million but found that buyers who could spend that kind of money wanted more convenience and less risk should they want to resell it in the future.

The five blue-shingled houses were designed to resemble a camp, Mr. Morrissey said, but with the best workmanship money could buy when they were built in 1931 for the Church family, descendants of a founder of the Church & Dwight Company, makers of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. There are 15 bedrooms in all, 7 in the main house.

But to hear real estate agents speak of them, the houses of Eothen are hobbit huts compared with what that big money can buy on Further Lane in East Hampton or Gin Lane in Southampton — the Fifth and Park Avenues of Long Island’s East End.

Mr. Morrissey’s homes (he stays in the caretaker’s cottage when renters are there; Warhol preferred the third cottage west of the main house) were designed with plenty of doors and corridors for ocean winds to whistle through, bearing the smell of the salt and sea into the wood-panel rooms.

“You feel the breeze?” Mr. Morrissey said, the wind riffling the brim of his cotton bucket hat as he sat at a table on the patio between the cottages. “This you can’t capture in a photograph, no matter how many times you photograph it.”

Just then, a tall blond man, looking as if he had sauntered off the page of a Ralph Lauren catalog, walked out of the main house and greeted him. Encounters with summer renters were one of the few times Mr. Morrissey smiled during an hourlong visit on a recent afternoon.

He bristled at too many questions about Warhol and peered at his watch when asked for tales of celebrity high jinks. “People didn’t come here for big parties,” he said. “People basically came here to relax. It’s a place you come to for nature, for a breeze, for beautiful scenic things.”

On the other hand, Montauk residents still recall the summer when the Rolling Stones rehearsed songs from the “Black and Blue” album, including “Memory Motel,” in the main house.

It’s hard to imagine the sound of the wiry rockers with their amps and electric guitars belting out “Memory Motel” beneath the animal trophy heads, mounted elk antlers and the big dead fish above the fireplace mantel in the living room. There’s another fireplace at the other end of the room, aged bluestone slabs for floors and a vaulted ceiling lined with exposed beams.

Mr. Morrissey has kept many of the nightstands, beds and desks that came with the house. In line with the spare style of the homes, they were originally from the nonprofit Val-Kill furniture factory in Hyde Park, N.Y., which was started by Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1930’s to provide work for local people.

The other cottages have similar old-salt décor: brick herringbone-pattern floors and walls and ceilings lined with rich wood paneling and built-in shelves.

But for $40 million, buyers want “satin sheets and ice makers and Sub-Zero refrigerators and flat-screen TV’s, built-in pools,” Mr. Brennan said. “If he would sell it for $25 million, I could sell it for him.”

Calvin Klein, the magazine publisher Jann Wenner, Ralph Lauren and the hotelier and developer Ian Schrager have all passed on the house, Mr. Brennan said. “And they all like that kind of rustic stuff, but the price tag was just too much.”

Tony Cerio, an agent at Brown Harris Stevens who is now listing the property, said 600 feet on the ocean is Eothen’s “big value.” It is also built upon solid rock, he said, and doesn’t experience the kind of gouged-out erosion seen on higher bluffs.

Most real estate agents agree that the real selling point is the estate’s singular eastern oceanfront location.

The houses atop the bluffs at Eothen, an ancient Greek word that means “at first light,” could never be built today under the Town of East Hampton’s zoning laws, including requirements that each house be on a minimum of 10 acres and set back at least 100 feet from the water.

And nothing can be built around them — in addition to the Warhol preserve, the area is next to more than 100 acres of New York and Suffolk County preserves and parkland.

“It is really one of a kind in many respects,” said Htun Han, a partner at the Hamptons Realty Group in East Hampton. “You’ve got all that privacy, and it’s absolutely drop-dead beautiful.”

Still, “as much as it’s absolutely stunning,” he said, switching his tack as do many agents who try to gauge Eothen’s value, “it’s stark, and really a very raw beauty.”

Neighbors — Dick Cavett, Paul Simon and Mr. Schnabel among them — are in houses small in the distance and sitting on their own remote bluffs. Mr. Cavett’s house, set back on the higher bluffs to the west, was carefully rebuilt after a 1997 fire and is one of seven Montauk Association homes — Shingle-style cottages designed in the late 1800’s by Stanford White.

Some, like Mr. Schnabel, who restored another Association home, first discovered the area as guests at Eothen. “I’m surprised that Julian Schnabel didn’t buy it,” Ms. Fredericks said. “He rented Eothen for a long time.”

The buyer who pays anywhere near $40 million for Eothen is likely to see the beauty in the Colonial Revival buildings and in their rugged Montauk surroundings, she said.

“The materials are very real and honest; it wasn’t built for show,” she said. “If you like the location and you’re really looking for privacy, that’s certainly it.”

Stop In and Bring Liza and Liz

ON Friday, June 24, 1983, Andy Warhol and Halston were on a twin-engine plane flying to Montauk, where Halston rented a house on Warhol’s Eothen estate.

The “ride was fast and beautiful — the moon was coming up full, and we flew over all the big houses,” Warhol recalled to his personal assistant, Pat Hackett, who included the remarks in “The Andy Warhol Diaries.”

The next day in Montauk, Warhol lamented that Liza Minnelli “doesn’t come out anymore — she and Halston are still not on good terms. Because she didn’t wear Halston to the Oscars.” That entry ends: “But Liz Taylor will be coming out to visit Halston in Montauk soon.” At the time she was on Broadway in “Private Lives” with Richard Burton.

« Go back to In The News