Jerry Seinfeld Outwitted by Designer Helmut Lang

East Hampton, L.I.

Who knew there was a limit on comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s American Express card? According to East Hampton real estate sources, the champion of nothing recently lost a piece of oceanfront land with two houses to fashion designer Helmut Lang, who offered the owner $1 million more.

Last fall, Mr. Seinfeld’s broker, Tina Fredericks, offered Frederic Seegal, the president of Wasserstein, Perella & Company, $14.5 million for his Tyson Lane home–approximately three acres with a two-story house and a guest cottage. The property wasn’t for sale, but Mr. Seinfeld had spotted it on a house-hunting outing with Ms. Fredericks, according to sources. Mr. Seegal rejected Mr. Seinfeld’s offer.

Then, in January, Ms. Fredericks submitted a higher, $15.5 million offer to Mr. Seegal, which the investment banker accepted. But the higher offer was from fashion designer Helmut Lang, who had rented a house on nearby Further Lane in recent summers and was also looking for a house with the help of Ms. Fredericks.

According to sources close to the situation, being rejected prompted some ire on Mr. Seinfeld’s part. Elizabeth Clark, a publicist for Mr. Seinfeld, denied that there was any hostility. “Business is business,” she said. “He definitely looked at that house. He looked at a bunch. I don’t know how much he offered.” Mr. Seegal and Ms. Fredericks could not be reached for comment. A publicist for Mr. Lang had no comment.

Mr. Seegal’s two-lot parcel on the ocean is on Tyson Lane, a U-shaped private compound south of Further Lane. Sources said the main house is a restored, 18th-century structure that contains five bedrooms and four and a half baths. The guest house, which Barbra Streisand once rented for her son, actor Jason Gould, is a two-story cottage with two bedrooms and one bath, also dates from the 18th century. Mr. Seegal purchased the property in 1992.

According to Ms. Clark, Mr. Seinfeld is still looking for a Hamptons home.

Bridgehampton, L.I.

GOSSIP DIVA CINDY ADAMS ERECTS ILLEGAL GUEST HOUSE. New York Post columnist Cindy Adams has gotten herself into some hot water with Hamptons building authorities. Ms. Adams, who owns a half-acre on Lumber Lane in Bridgehampton, L.I., has been issued a criminal summons by the Southampton Building Department for constructing several buildings, including a two-story guest house, without the proper building permits. Ms. Adams’ case is expected to be reviewed by the Southampton Zoning Board of Appeals, which oversees the hamlet of Bridgehampton, at a meeting in April, where local residents are organizing to protest her mini-compound.

Paul Houlihan, chief building inspector for the town, said Ms. Adams’ illegal construction came to his attention through an anonymous complaint last fall. “An inspector went out there, and [saw that] they had built a small dwelling without a permit, and a couple of additions on the house and sheds without permits,” Mr. Houlihan said. Although Ms. Adams subsequently obtained a permit for two storage sheds that had been illegally constructed, the guest house and two additions to the main house remain in violation of building regulations, he said.

Ms. Adams recently submitted an application for a variance on the rest of the construction and is awaiting a decision from the zoning board at a meeting scheduled for April 1. According to Mr. Houlihan, Ms. Adams is required to notify the community of her variance request 10 days prior to that meeting in two ways: through posters to be prominently displayed on her property, and through certified letters to be dispatched to her immediate neighbors.

“I don’t think there’s any chance that the Zoning Board of Appeals will give them a second dwelling on the property,” said Mr. Houlihan. Assuming Ms. Adams is not asked to rip down the building–a distinct possibility in such a case–she may be permitted to use it for some nonresidential function, such as storage. If the zoning board wishes, it could bring the issue before the local courts, which could in turn fine her anywhere from $250 to $1,000. Ms. Adams did not return a call for comment.

A handful of nearby property owners formed a community group called Concerned Citizens for the Preservation of Lumber Lane in February, and have had discussions with a Westhampton Beach lawyer, Arthur DiPietro, about representing them against Ms. Adams. Members of the group plan to attend the April zoning board meeting, to voice their annoyance both with the illegal building and with what they perceive as parking congestion in front of Ms. Adams’ lot.

“We have been law-abiding people, and these people come out, and the first thing you know, they add another building, a pool or something else, and they don’t fence it in. And until someone says something, they don’t do anything,” said Richard G. Hendrickson, an 86-year-old retired farmer whose Narrow Lane property sits directly behind that of Ms. Adams. “We, as local people, would like to keep our area and our street and our village as they have been in the past.”

Morris Zand, president of the marketing agency Zand & Associates, who owns the house next door to Ms. Adams on Lumber Lane, said, “This is just an attempt to spotlight what we think is an overt disregard for the formal and informal rules of the game.”

Upper West Side

SILVER PALATE CHEF ABANDONS DAKOTA MEGAKITCHEN FOR BERESFORD. Some lucky gourmand is about to inherit the custom-made Dakota kitchen of chef Sheila Lukins.

In the 80′s, Ms. Lukins, who helped bring foods like goat cheese and arugula into mainstream American cuisine with her 1982 Silver Palate Cookbook , converted the kitchen, maid’s room and a bathroom of her 11-room Dakota apartment, at 1 West 72nd Street, into a testing ground. There’s a butcher-block table in the middle that seats six. Now Ms. Lukins is abandoning the Dakota for the Beresford, 211 Central Park West, where she has been approved by the board to purchase a two-bedroom apartment for $1.45 million.

Ms. Lukins sized up more than 30 Upper East Side kitchens while she was looking for a new home, she told The Observer . “I work at home all day, testing recipes … and I love Columbus Avenue and Broadway and Citarella and Fairway and Zabar’s,” she said. “I was so happy, I almost wept when I saw this apartment.”

The 2,300-square-foot Beresford apartment has a large living room and dining room, two bedrooms, two baths and, at least for now, a maid’s room next to the kitchen. Initially priced at $1.6 million in September 1998, the asking price was then lowered to $1.45 million in November. Ms. Lukins signed a contract on Jan. 6 to purchase the apartment for that amount.

Ms. Lukins has hired Lance Brown, the architect who designed the now-closed Silver Palate store on Columbus Avenue, to work on creating a new kitchen. “It needs a new stove,” said Ms. Lukins. “I’m putting in a lot of Viking equipment, and I’m totally thrilled about it. [But] we are gonna use the same original steel and glass cabinets that are in the Beresford kitchens.”

The deal is expected to be finalized in mid-March, and Ms. Lukins, who was at home packing boxes when reached by The Observer , is more than anxious to move 10 blocks north and become neighbors with John McEnroe, Jerry Seinfeld and photographer Patrick Demarchelier.

10 West 83rd Street

Four-story town house.

Asking: $3.25 million. Selling: $3.25 million.

Time on the market: one week.

THE NEW DREAM HOUSE MAKES YOU $1 MILLION. A married couple bought this four-story house for $2.025 million in July 1998. There was room for a lovely, three-level owner’s unit and a smaller rental space to make a little side income; there was an office for the husband, a charming garden and an elevator for convenience’s sake. Still, even after the intended renovations were finished, the couple elected not to move in. Instead, they put it on the market for $3.25 million. Having updated the 83rd Street house in a distinctly modern way, they expected it to appeal to West Coast buyers. Within a week, they had one: an entertainment-industry couple who didn’t want to raise their kids in Hollywood. The deal closed in January. Broker: Corcoran Group (Alan Berger); Douglas Elliman.

Upper East Side

SEAGRAM HEIR FINALLY PLANS MOVE TO EXCLUSIVE 64TH STREET. Edgar Bronfman Jr.’s renovation of 15 East 64th Street–a painstakingly long and mysterious process for real estate watchers of the block that is also home to Donatella Versace, Ivana Trump and Alec Wildenstein–is in its final stages. The Seagram Company Ltd.’s chief executive has found a buyer to pay $4.5 million for the town house on 73rd Street where he has lived since 1990.

Sources said that last October a buyer signed a contract for $4.5 million to purchase the town house at 122 East 73rd Street where Mr. Bronfman has been living with his wife, Clarissa Bronfman. The 73rd Street deal is expected to be final on May 15 and has put a deadline on the renovation of the 64th Street house, where the couple hopes to move by the end of the summer.

“Construction is proceeding well, and occupancy is planned for late summer,” said a source familiar with the construction site. Most recently, the facade was cleaned and new windows were installed; both exterior and interior painting are scheduled for late spring.

Mr. Bronfman purchased the 73rd Street house, between Park and Lexington avenues, for $2.8 million in 1990. “It wasn’t a wreck, but it needed major restoration,” said Roger Erickson, the broker who represented Mr. Bronfman during the purchase. According to real estate sources, the beverage mogul tastefully updated the five-story, 4,900-square-foot town house.

After Mr. Bronfman married Clarissa Alcock in 1994, the couple began shopping around for a new property with Mr. Erickson, who eventually found them the 64th Street house–a five-story structure off Fifth Avenue–for $4.375 million. Real estate sources said the Bronfmans spent nearly three years mulling over design plans before finally breaking ground in 1997. Aside from the landmarked facade, the couple started from scratch–gutting the building and digging a deeper basement foundation.

When construction was still heavily under way last July, Mrs. Bronfman approached Vannessa Kaufman, a broker with Andrew Emmet & Company and a personal friend, about marketing the 73rd Street house. The house wound up unofficially on the market for around $5 million, as a shared listing between Ms. Kaufman and Anne Snee, head of the Corcoran Group’s town house division. The buyers, a family with children, were also represented by Corcoran.

Ms. Snee said the house sold “with one phone call … The house doesn’t need a lick of work. It’s been beautifully maintained, and it’s an exquisite block.” Ms. Snee refused to comment further on the deal and Ms. Kaufman declined to comment at all. Mr. Bronfman, who was traveling at press time, could not be reached for comment.

300 East 74th Street

Two-bed, two-bath, 1,500-square-foot co-op.

Asking: $670,000. Selling: $670,000.

Charges: $1,289; 55 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one day.

A $15,000 EVICTION NOTICE. It took six months of exhaustive searching for broker Marina Chimerine to find this buyer–an empty-nest mom with another home in Florida–an apartment. Recalled Ms. Chimerine, “I spoke to this woman every single day.” Since the buyer’s price range floated somewhere between $600,000 and $1.5 million, there was a lot to see. Together, broker and client looked at practically every two- and three-bedroom apartment west of Second Avenue between 60th and 84th streets that was on the market in the latter part of 1998. She settled on a 34th-floor apartment in this 36-story building with incredible views, which was on the market for $670,000. But her attorney took a little too long in reviewing the contract, and the deal was lost to another bidder. Not to fear: there was another apartment in the exact same line, nine stories below, also on the market. After kicking in an extra $15,000 to insure the rental tenant’s quick exit, the buyer was able to move in in February. Broker: Corcoran (Marina Chimerine).

Midtown

128 Central Park South

Two-bed, two-bath, 1,400-square-foot prewar co-op.

Asking: $1.075 million. Selling: $999,000.

Charges: $1,750; 60 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: two months.

PART-TIME RESIDENT GETS THE RED CARPET. AFTER ALL-CASH OFFER The buyer of this Central Park South co-op is a businessman, based in Europe, who has a lust for opera and fine art. He called broker Cecilia Serrano about an apartment in the Essex House–he wanted to be near Lincoln Center and major museums–but she steered him to this penthouse just down the road from the Essex House. It had been renovated several years ago in the Art Deco style of the building by the businessman who was selling it. The buyer had one worry: that the co-op board might be hesitant about accepting a part-time resident. But his all-cash offer recommended him–at a selling price that is the highest ever in the building. Broker: Sumitomo Real Estate Sales (Cecilia Serrano); Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales (Edwin Josue).

Greenwich Village

44 East 12th Street

Two-bed, 2.5 bath, 1,400-square-foot condo.

Asking: $695,000. Selling: $680,000.

Charges: $911. Taxes: $939.

Time on the market: four days.

MAY TO SEPTEMBER PENTHOUSE ROMANCE. A British investment banker who planned to completely renovate the apartment for himself and his girlfriend. For eight months, the construction–and the romance–proceeded at full throttle. The man ripped out a spiral staircase not to his liking and replaced it with a beautiful wooden one; he replaced daunting solid wood doors with sliding glass ones; he recovered the terrace and replaced two of the bathrooms. By November, the work was almost finished, but so was the relationship. So the now single banker decided to sell. Within a few days, he had an offer from an Irish gentleman who lived in a penthouse elsewhere in the building. The new buyer signed off on the architectural changes, too. Broker: Corcoran (Margaret Heffernan).

West Village

Charles Street between West Fourth and Bleecker streets

Four-story town house.

Asking: $2.8 million. Selling: $2.5 million.

Time on the market: 13 weeks.

THERE’S A BAMBOO FOREST ON CHARLES STREET. As vice chairman of the American Craft Museum, Ann Rooke-Ley Berman was well suited to fix up this 1850 West Village landmark town house, which she and her husband Tony Berman purchased for $770,000 in 1993. Of her work on the Charles Street house, Ms. Berman said, “I was interested in making it modern.” She installed built-in maple and ash cabinetry. “It had very clean lines, and I opened up the big windows in the back, to this kind of Asian garden with big bamboo trees and a fountain.” She also created an office space with two huge skylights that flooded the room with sun. And throughout, she hung her collection of American craftworks. “This could be the top of the market right now, and we should just do it,” Ms. Berman said of her decision to sell. It didn’t take long for a family from out of town to sign a contract.