A federal appeals court has ordered billionaire Ira Rennert to pay a $213.2 million judgment, upholding a previous jury decision that found him liable for pilfering almost $120 million from his ailing mining company to help fund construction of his 63-acre estate in Sagaponack.
The ruling on Wednesday, March 8, by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a September 2015 judgment ordering Mr. Rennert, 82, and his New York City-based holding company The Renco Group Inc. to pay $213.2 million to plaintiff Lee Buchwald, a trustee of the failed Magnesium Corporation of America, or MagCorp.
According to Mr. Buchwald, Mr. Rennert took money from the ailing MagCorp, which is now defunct, to help build his Sagaponack waterfront estate in the late 1990s. The property is now valued at $248 million, according to 2016 Southampton Town tax information.
Mr. Rennert paid $11 million for the land in Sagaponack in 1997, and the compound he built there, which he named “Fair Field,” is one of the largest private homes in the nation.
After the 2015 ruling, Mr. Rennert appealed, challenging whether a jury trial was indeed allowed in the original proceedings, as well as concerns over various trial rulings that led to what he claimed was a compromised verdict.
Last Wednesday, the appeals court stood by Mr. Buchwald’s various claims against Mr. Rennert, including fraudulent conveyance, breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment, and affirmed that Mr. Rennert was liable to pay the $213.2 million, which accumulated interest over time.
Lawyers for Mr. Rennert did not respond to calls seeking comment.
Mr. Rennert controls one of the nation’s largest privately held industrial empires, and his personal fortune is estimated to be $6.5 billion, according to Forbes figures.
The buildings on Mr. Rennert’s Daniels Lane property total more than 110,000 square feet and include a 72,853-square-foot main house with 21 bedrooms. A 10,000-square-foot “playhouse” sits adjacent to the main house and contains a squash court, two bowling alleys, an exercise room, lounge, billiards room, playroom, game room and outdoor terrace.