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Hamptons Life

Jul 6, 2017 2:17 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Peter Hallock, Formerly Of Allan M. Schneider And Associates, Sells Southampton Village Manse

95 South Main Street, Southampton Village. COURTESY CORCORAN
Jul 9, 2017 2:23 PM

The rise and not exactly fall of the legendary firm Allan M. Schneider & Associates can be said to reflect the evolution—perhaps more accurately, consolidation—of the real estate industry in the Hamptons. Such ruminations have been prompted by the report that Peter Hallock has sold his Southampton Village manse on South Main Street for $7.5 million—and we’ll get around to explaining why.

In the obituary it published in its December 9, 1991, edition, The New York Times cited a source saying that Schneider, who lived in East Hampton, had died of a heart attack, at 54. This was technically true, but there was much more to the Schneider story, as was memorably conveyed by Steven Gaines in his informative and entertaining page-turner “Philistines at the Hedgerow.”

At the time of his death, Mr. Schneider “was the most powerful broker in all of the Hamptons—‘the Pasha,’ as he was affectionately called by his staff—with offices in Southampton, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor, and East Hampton and revenues approaching $100 million” (which might seem quaint today).

Mr. Schneider had been born in Brooklyn Heights, attended Princeton University, and worked for a Manhattan advertising company. At 37, he was in Bridgehampton, founding his real estate firm. As real estate prices surged in the 1980s, he rode the wave. He was near or perhaps at the top of the heap of Hamptons brokers.

Among the “Associates,” Peter Hallock became what was essentially second-in-command at the company. In the fall of 1991, Allan M. Schneider & Associates formed an exclusive affiliation with Douglas Elliman, opening the door for that New York City firm to enter the Hamptons housing market. Presumably, Mr. Schneider would become even more wealthy and successful. Then came a dinner that went very wrong.

As Mr. Gaines describes it in his book’s very first, arresting sentence: “One Friday night in December 1991, while dining at the home of Bruce Cotter, a retired East Hampton police lieutenant, real estate magnate Allan M. Schneider began to choke on a piece of rare sirloin steak lodged in his windpipe.”

That morning, the author points out, Mr. Schneider had closed a deal to open a fifth office, in Amagansett. However, the Grim Reaper wanted his commission—not 6 percent, but 100 percent. Mr. Cotter performed the Heimlich maneuver and “the steak dislodged with dramatic force, shooting ten feet across the room.” Seemingly recovered though dazed, Mr. Schneider apologized. “For a moment there wasn’t a sound in the room. Then Allan pitched over to the side and hit the floor with such a thud, the walls shook.”

Mr. Hallock, Timothy Davis and Peggy Griffin became the managing principals of Allan M. Schneider & Associates. And the firm prospered. By 2006 it had 50 employees and 243 sales associates and a dozen offices, producing $1.4 billion in sales the previous 12 months. But it wasn’t too big to be eaten. That August, it was acquired by National Realty Trust and its subsidiary, the Corcoran Group, part of the push by larger real estate firms to gobble up the remaining independents.

Today, when Mr. Schneider would be turning 80, he lives on in Mr. Gaines’s book but not in the high-stakes, billion-dollar Hamptons Real Estate market he helped to create.

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