Money Matters

Bernie Madoff’s ‘Modest’ Beach House In The Hamptons Lists At $21M, Sans Catwalk


Photographer: Chris Foster

You can pay $21 million for an oceanfront home in Montauk to sleep where Bernie Madoff once slept, or you can pay $31 a night to stay in Hither Hills Campground, a two-minute stroll down the beach.

If this was eight years ago, when the U.S. Marshals were selling Madoff’s beach house after he was sentenced to 150 years in prison, you might have picked the campground. The 3,000-square-foot house at the tip of New York’s Long Island was, as one Hamptons broker put it to me this week, “a 1980s dump set in a fabulous location.”

“People assumed Bernie was living like a mogul, like some sort of incredible plutocrat, but his houses were relatively modest compared to the rest of the hedge-fund world,” said Diana Henriques, author of “The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust,” which was made into a movie released on HBO last year. Madoff confessed in 2008 to the largest financial fraud in U.S. history.

When Tony Award-winning producer Daryl Roth and her husband, Steven Roth, chairman of Vornado Realty Trust, bought the property in 2009 for $9.4 million, they worked the kind of magic that buckets of money coupled with Manhattan’s most in-demand architect can achieve. The Roths put the home on the market this week, listed with Gary DePersia and Joan Hegner of the Corcoran Group.

Architect Thierry Despont, the Frenchman whose clients include Bill Gates, Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, ripped out everything — right down to the studs — to turn the floor plan of the 1982 house upside down. He moved the front entry from the second floor to the first by tearing out a catwalk from the driveway and replacing it with mahogany steps sloping down to the home’s first level. He moved the master bedroom to the second floor.

The living room was more of a challenge. The house was built with a vaulted ceiling in the main room that in those big-shouldered, big-haired 1980s years would have been called the “great room.” Despont turned the sharp angles of a cathedral ceiling into a giant curve by creating a barrel vault covered in oak planks that look a bit like a weathered boat hull.

The exterior he left much as he found it — contemporary lines, but with a traditional cladding of cedar shingles.

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