NO DEAL: There were no bidders at Tuesday’s public auction by the New York County Sheriff’s office for an East 19th Street town house where Oleg Cassini once lived.
The auction was authorized by the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Nassau in favor of the judgment creditor Jeffrey DeLuca, public administrator of Nassau County. It was issued against judgment debtor Marianne Nestor Cassini, who was married to the designer.
A minimum bid of $5 million had been set and any buyer would be responsible for the additional mortgage debt of $3 million, according to a representative from the New York County Sheriff’s office. A future auction date has not yet been set. Deputy sheriff Nicholas DeSilvio did not respond to requests for comment.
The property had been appraised for $9 million. Built in 1901, the six-bedroom and five-and-a-half bathroom Gramercy Park property has two fireplaces, double-high ceilings and a rear patio. Prized architect Charles Sterner remodeled it into a Gothic house for the pre-Cassini owner Joseph B. Thomas.
The fact that Cassini’s widow resides at the East 19th Street address may have been a deterrent to potential bidders, according to a NYC Sheriff’s office official.
As a joint tenant of the property since 1977, she said survivorship rights made the property legally hers in 2006. “I am the only name on the deed,” she said. “Everything is on appeal.”
Last fall, Marianne Cassini was released from a Nassau County jail after being held in civil contempt after refusing to turn over financial statements and business records to a court-appointed receiver. She described Nassau Surrogate’s Court Judge Margaret Reilly’s decision to do so as “an abuse of discretion.”
Oleg Cassini, who helped define Jacqueline Kennedy’s signature style as first lady, died in 2006. Since that time, there has been legal disputes over his estimated $55 million estate. The designer had previously been married to the actress Gene Tierney, who had two daughters Daria and Christina. Daria died in 2010 and Christina died in 2015. Four of Christina Cassini’s children have been trying to claim part of the estate with Alexandre Cassini Belmont leading the charge.
Their attorney John Barnosky said, “The family and the public administrator has been vigorously pursuing collection on their judgment and will continue to do so. With respect to 19th Street, even though no bidders appeared Tuesday, we are confident that at some point it will be auctioned again and we will get a bidder.”
Christina Cassini was one of Barnosky’s clients until her death in 2015. Barnosky is co-executor of her estate with Alexandre Belmont Cassini, who lives in Ibiza, Spain.
He declined to specify the amount the family is seeking, only saying that the face amount of the judgments are between $54 million and $55 million. Attorneys for Marianne Cassini did not respond to requests for comment.
“We obviously have other assets that we will be seeking to foreclose against, but they are still in process.” Barnosky said, referring to the East 63rd Street town house, where much of the Oleg Cassini Inc. business was conducted.
Barnosky has been working on Cassini-related legal disputes since 2010. “The pace of legal proceedings in general is always frustratingly slow, but this one is right up there with the slowest,” he said.
Meanwhile, Doyle is preparing for its June 27 auction of the Oleg Cassini estate featuring 700 lots of furniture, art, clothing, decorative objects, tableware, memorabilia and other items. This weekend about 1,000 people are expected to attend a public preview at the designer’s former Oyster Bay Cove manse, according to an estimate by an Oyster Bay Police Department official.
Meanwhile, film companies have reached out to Marianne Cassini, she said.