Saunders, Real Estate, Hamptons

Hamptons Life

Jul 15, 2019 11:08 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

DOJ Seizes East Hampton's Arc House

The Arc House, in East Hampton, is on the market for $2.75 million after the U.S. Department of Justice seized it from its former owners.                  COURTESY MB ARCHITECTURE
Jul 15, 2019 11:08 AM

An iconic East Hampton home, dubbed the Arc House by its architect Maziar Behrooz, is on the market for the second time in six years, after the U.S. Department of Justice seized the property in a securities and wire fraud case against the owner’s husband. The property, represented by Colliers International on behalf of the U.S. Marshals, is listed for $2.75 million.

The single-family home, located at 50 Green Hollow Road, was completed in 2010. The house was formerly owned by Jessica Meli, who purchased the property in 2015 for $3 million. Soon after purchasing it, Ms. Meli reached out to Mr. Behrooz to design an annex to the house. After receiving this request, Mr. Behrooz felt “our design ideas were too far apart … and I would not be able to be as flexible as I would normally be,” he said in a phone interview on Friday. “I designed this house not for the Melis, but for the previous owner.

Ms. Meli’s husband, Joseph Meli, was charged in April of this year with wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud, all in relation to a ticket resale scheme in which Mr. Meli and a co-conspirator—his cousin, James Siniscalchi—were alleged to have pocketed private investments intended to finance the purchase of Broadway tickets for resale on the secondary market.

Mr. Meli had previously pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud in 2017 and was sentenced in 2018 to six and a half years in prison. His plea and sentencing were also in relation to an earlier Ponzi scheme—again, with Broadway tickets—perpetrated in partnership with radio host Craig Carton.

Ms. Meli, who had owned the East Hampton property, was listed as a relief defendant—a person who has received ill-gotten funds or assets—in the 2018 charges, in which Mr. Meli was ordered to forfeit $104 million, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Included as a stipulation was forfeiture of the East Hampton residence, purchased by Ms. Meli with investor funds, according to a case brought before the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York.

The brainchild of Mr. Behrooz, the Arc House was initially designed in collaboration with James Salomon, a local art dealer. Around 2007, Mr. Behrooz showed Mr. Salomon a photograph of an F-16 jet coming out of an airplane hangar, and the design took off. Mr. Behrooz explained that the house is in an area of East Hampton that is home to many greenhouses and barns, and he wanted to design a structure that “took into account the diverse architecture that had been a part of that area.”

Built to resemble a quonset hut, the Arc House has a ceiling peak of 16 feet at its center and requires no columns for structural support. Mr. Behrooz described the process of design as imagining a slice of a quonset hut, enlarging it, and “creating a feeling of the whole building as like a portal.”

The home, boasting an interior of 6,400 square feet on a 3-acre lot, is one that Mr. Behrooz said is “special” to him.

Paul Luciano, the broker listed as representing the house on behalf of the U.S. Marshals, did not return multiple requests for comment, nor did Alexa Hale, the listed property manger. Repeated attempts to contact Jessica Meli were unsuccessful.

“I hope that somebody who will appreciate it will buy it and bring it back to the optimal life it can have,” Mr. Behrooz said.

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