Monday 19 March 2018

Developer Dunne 'a pariah' in US as house plan angers locals

Developer Sean Dunne puts his hand up to avoid having his photo taken on Field Point Road, Greenwich, Connecticut, last week
Developer Sean Dunne puts his hand up to avoid having his photo taken on Field Point Road, Greenwich, Connecticut, last week
The renovation of the 38 Bush Avenue home in Belle Haven, which has been stopped

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

HE has moved his family to Belle Haven, the exclusive Greenwich, Connecticut, enclave that is home to singer Diana Ross and hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones II.

But developer Sean Dunne, some of whose vast borrowings are to be taken over by NAMA, has been branded "a pariah" a local newspaper in the very place he has relocated to.

Last night the 'Greenwich Time' newspaper, in a report entitled "An Irish Refugee", published an extensive expose on Belle Haven's newest arrivals, Dunne and his wife, Gayle Killilea.

Mr Dunne, who is renting a palatial $7m (€5.3m) Mediterranean-style villa on Field Point Avenue, has consistently denied that he is the owner of 38 Bush Avenue in Belle Haven.

However, now he has a new problem in Greenwich. What he had hoped would be his new home, a $2m (€1.5m) Bush Avenue house, is now in planning limbo after local planning officials found the house had been largely demolished, exceeding the scope of the permit.

Mr Dunne was involved in a "testy exchange" last week when a reporter and photographer from the 'Greenwich Time' confronted him about ownership of the home, which is currently under construction, a project that has angered some of the residents on Bush Avenue.

Mr Dunne's would-be neighbours have told the newspaper that they are staggered by his denials of ownership of the property, which is due to be demolished to pave the way for a massive new family home.

Retired IBM Corp executive Richard Case, who has lived next door to number 38 since 1977, claimed that Mr Dunne introduced himself as the owner of 38 Bush Avenue earlier this year.

"He now insists that he never introduced himself as the owner," said Mr Case, who has described renovation plans for 38 Bush Avenue as a blight on the neighbourhood.

Elaine Buss, who lives across the street from 38 Bush Avenue, had lodged a complaint with the authorities in Greenwich over the renovation project and she also claims that Mr Dunne made similar overtures about his ownership of the property.

"He tells everybody he isn't (the owner) and he threatens to sue if you say something," Ms Buss told the 'Greenwich Time'.

The developer visited Ms Buss and her husband, where the couple showed him renovations they had carried out on their home.

Ms Buss, a member of the exclusive Belle Haven Yacht Club, claimed that Mr Dunne got one of the neighbours to invite him to the Belle Haven club for a commissioning.


And although she is not on the membership committee, Ms Buss said she would not support any bid by Mr Dunne or his wife to become members of the club.

"We would not write a letter for them. He's just so out of character with Belle Haven," said Ms Buss, who added: "Of course we've all read about him."

Belle Haven is a secure residential compound that is home to singer Diana Ross and has its own security force.

The former heads of IBM, Tom Watson and Louis Gerstner, the former CEO of Xerox, Peter McCollough and the former chairman of Goldman Sachs, John Weinberg, also live in the estate.

Reports about Mr Dunne's move to America have prompted threats of litigation by his wife.

Last week Ms Killilea, through a law firm, said that her marital affairs, her place of residence and her finances were not legitimate matters of public interest.

Some of Mr Dunne's loans have been transferred to NAMA, whose chairman Frank Daly has warned that any debtor who tried to place certain assets beyond the reach of the toxic loans agency was "seriously deluded".

One of Mr Dunne's most famous deals was the €379m purchase of the high-profile 6.85-acre Jury's Berkeley Court site in Dublin 4, which, at the time, was a record price for land in the capital.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News