Donny Deutsch Loses Suit Over Real Estate Commission


Donny Deutsch, former CNBC host of “The Big Idea With Donny Deutsch,” ad executive, and co-author—interestingly enough—of a motivational book called “Often Wrong, Never in Doubt: Unleash the Business Rebel Within,” has been ordered to pay $1.2 million plus interest to Sotheby’s International Realty after allegedly stiffing a broker on the commission for a $30 million sale in East Hampton.

Sotheby’s claimed that Mr. Deutsch had breached his contract with broker Edward Petrie in selling 12 and 14 Tyson Lane to Howard Marks in 2010. According to State Supreme Court documents, Mr. Petrie facilitated the sale in several ways, including by visiting the property with Mr. Marks, his wife, Nancy Marks, and their decorator, Michael Smith.

Mr. Deutsch’s attorneys argued that the visit took place after Mr. Petrie was advised that any negotiations would proceed through a friend of Mr. Deutsch, but Justice Charles E. Ramos noted that it was not until after Mr. Petrie had advised Mr. Deutsch that Mr. Marks was interested in the property that Mr. Deutsch began to speak directly with Mr. Marks. In fact, the justice found that Sotheby’s and Mr. Petrie had been deliberately excluded from negotiations, and that an attempt had been made by Mr. Deutsch’s attorney, Lisa LaRocca, to “paper over” his claim to a commission.

“This court considers that and refusal to acknowledge plaintiff as the broker to be marks of dishonesty and greed,” Justice Ramos wrote in a decision dated October 21. “Both characteristics are particularly unbecoming when exhibited by those blessed with great wealth.”

Further Lane Suit

Meanwhile, a three-piece property on nearby Further Lane—which at $147 million was reputedly the most expensive sale in the nation for a single-family abode—remains at the center of an $8.8 million suit filed against buyer Barry Rosenstein by the Corcoran Group. The suit claims that broker Tim Davis was cut out of the deal earlier this year after being awarded an exclusive listing for 60, 62 and 64 Further Lane and structuring the sale, which would have earned a $4 million commission for Corcoran. It seeks an additional $4 million in damages.

Mr. Rosenstein, a hedge fund manager, is a co-defendant in the suit, along with the estates of Andrew Gordon and Christopher Browne, the late former owners of the property.

When asked this week, Mr. Davis said the suit had not yet been resolved.

Auction Delayed

Not far away, at 80 Further Lane, is a property for which a $10.5 million foreclosure auction was scheduled on October 22 at East Hampton Town Hall. According to the attorney for the mortgage holder, that auction was delayed because Gia Walsh, who owns the property with David Walsh, had filed for bankruptcy the day before.

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