Gayle Dunne's plans for €1.5m home in US thrown into chaos
Published 10/01/2011 | 05:00
PLANS for the remodelling of a €1.5m US home by Gayle Dunne, the wife of indebted property developer Sean Dunne, have been thrown into chaos after officials cancelled a key meeting on the controversial project.
Town planners were due to discuss the future of the project on Wednesday after objections by neighbours to allegedly excessive demolition work on the site in the upmarket enclave of Greenwich, Connecticut.
Mrs Dunne (36), who is developing the property, was due to be represented at the meeting by New York lawyer Philip Teplen. But the pair are involved in a bitter legal dispute over $500,000 (€375,000), which Mrs Dunne alleges the lawyer swindled from her.
Mr Teplen had been due to make representations to the town's zoning and planning board of appeals.
However, planning officials said over the weekend that the meeting had been cancelled at short notice "due to lack of a requisite quorum".
Representatives of Mrs Dunne were unable to locate Mr Teplen after she filed a lawsuit against him over the allegedly missing money.
Court documents reveal summonses could not be served on Mr Teplen. They were instead served on his partner, an employee and a lawyer representing him.
The documents also reveal that no record can be found of the bank account in which Mr Teplen said he was keeping Mrs Dunne's money.
The cash was to be used as a downpayment on a property deal in Chicago, which Mrs Dunne later backed out of. When she sought the return of the funds, Mr Teplen failed to give the money back.
Mrs Dunne, a former socialite and gossip columnist, has not revealed where she got the funds although court documents reveal she has an investment portfolio, which she states is performing well.
Mr Teplen, whose office is in the Empire State Building, had been advising Mrs Dunne on securing an investment visa.
He was also acting as a trustee on 38 Bush Avenue, the Greenwich property at the centre of the planning dispute.
Mrs Dunne lists the property as her home address in US company filings, but has refused to say whether she is the owner.
Her 56-year-old husband, who is dealing with NAMA and is also heavily indebted to non-NAMA banks, has denied being the owner. The couple are living in a rented €5.4m Mediterranean-style villa nearby.
Planning officials issued a notice halting work on the property last October after complaints from neighbours.
Residents said demolition at the site exceeded what was permitted and was inconsistent with plans they were consulted on. The remains of the building have been left standing as an empty shell ever since.
Calls and emails to Mr Teplen's office seeking comment went unreturned.
George Mayer, a lawyer representing Mr Teplen, refused to comment when contacted by the Irish Independent.
Mrs Dunne said in a recent statement that she would not comment on her personal or financial affairs in the US.
Her husband is believed to be seeking new business opportunities in the US after failed attempts to redevelop the Jurys and Berkeley Court hotel sites, which he bought for €379m in 2005.
Mrs Dunne revealed in correspondence filed in court that she had moved to the US to develop property herself.
The correspondence reveals she was considering at least two different land deals around the time she fell out with Mr Teplen.