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Hamptons $100 Million Real Estate Ponzi Scheme

T.J. Clemente

The Panoramic View - great view but at a price. (Courtesy Photo)

When the U.S. Attorney's office in Islip, N.Y. unsealed a 24 count indictment against Adam Manson and brother-in-law Brian Callahan concerning what was called an almost $100 Million Ponzi scheme, I thought back to the days I was asked to meet Mr. Manson at the Panoramic View Oceanfront Luxury Villas, all the way at the end of the Hamptons in Montauk, to write favorable press for my Dan's Papers "Estate of Mind" column. Manson had purchased a huge advertising package.

General manager Harvey O'Brien and Adam Manson at Panoramic View. (Photo: T.J. Clemente)

Located next to Gurney's Inn and a stone toss away from the estates of Ralph Lauren and Robert DeNiro, it was advertised to be the state of the art luxury living in the twenty-first century, all on their ten acres right on the Atlantic Ocean. The units all had Italian marble bathrooms, granite kitchen counter tops. The kitchens had top shelf Viking ranges, Sub Zero refrigerators, beautiful hard wood floors (oak), custom wine coolers, unique personalized sound systems, and each unit has its own "hot spring" spa. There were units with decks with new technology fencing; some views are actually sixty feet above the Atlantic Ocean. The views from every living room and most bedrooms were dream like.

I wrote at the time, "The relaxing feeling of having the ocean down below you at the foot of your home brings a certain cache to the reality of this luxury living." Adam Manson called the views, "Dramatic and breath-taking." He pointed out that besides all the luxuries in each private unit there were some other wonderful amenities. He listed them as a full service concierge, a fitness center that has a high end sauna, on-site property management, a "Four Seasons" room-private parties and events location, an amazing heated Gunite pool, with a bluestone terrace with a waterfall. On call, he said, would be a masseuse and trainers to assist the owners, their families and guest in all their immediate needs. There would also be Pool and Beach attendants.

The cost? The 2.5 bedroom units were being offered to the public starting from $2.825 million. The very desirable 5 bedroom units were priced at $ 6 million. All while the rest of the real estate market of the east end was in a historic free fall. I was impressed, after all I was living in a rented $800 a month room on Ditch Plains in Montauk with very little heat, and no luxury.

Manson had reportedly purchased Panoramic from Louis French for a record $38 million. It was around the same time the Montauk Yacht Club was sold for a reported $34 million. Oh yes, it was those days before that real estate bubble burst in the Hamptons. The units did not sell as hoped, yet as the real estate market sunk lower and lower work continued at Panoramic. I just couldn't understand how Manson could keep it going.

Now the U.S. Attorney's office investigators are saying millions of dollars of investors money was funneled into the project somehow illegally. Since all are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court all I will add is it is a beautiful place to stay, and stay tuned.

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