Must this family lose their house?

The town values Walter Noel’s manse at 175 Round Hill Road at $6 million which, judging from the tax card and this picture of the spread seems a bit conservative, even in today’s market. Eighteen rooms within 8,590 sf, 8 bedrooms, 9 1/2 baths, a pool and, naturally, stone walls around the perimeter of its 2.2 acres. When Fairfield Greenwich Group collapses sometime in the next few weeks, will the money that bought this place go with it? Probably not.

Assuming that Noel had good legal advice, his personal liability for the debts of his corporation should be nil. It’s very difficult to “pierce the corporate veil” and as long as all the corporate niceties were attended to, Nole’s villa in Mustique, his New York apartment, his Hampton’s weekend retreat and this cottage on Round Hill should all be safely out of reach from greedy, grasping creditors.

That’s if he can avoid being labeled a willing participant in Madoff’s fraud. If he plays the “I’m just an old dotard who relied on the word of my bestest friend” card right, he’ll escape Scot-free. There are a few clouds on his horizon, of course, not the least of which are the reports circulating that when he tried to unload a major portion of his Sentry fund to other investors he couldn’t and wouldn’t let them examine Madoff’s books and records. A wilful blindness to an ongoing fraud, especially when one is being enriched by that fraud, may be enough to bring liability crashing down on Walt’s head.

But would he want to stay on Round Hill? Wouldn’t it be uncomfortable to wander across the street to the Round Hill Club for a bit of golf where his impoverished former friends and investors now work as grounds keepers? For some people, sure; but for a man who just last Saturday, two days after he’d wiped out his pal’s fortunes, showed up at the Club’s annual Christmas party and brazened it out, probably not – “What? What’s the matter? Something wrong with your canape?” Don’t forget, Harvard obviously didn’t teach the man much but it did inculcate that fine sense of arrogance that permits him to look down on the “little people” (and without their money, his friends have shrunk to mere Lilliputians) and shrug off their envy and anger. I bet he stays.

But it will be fun to watch developments.

7 Comments

Filed under Right wing nut rantings

7 responses to “Must this family lose their house?

  1. CEA

    from today’s NY Post

    FAIRFIELD Greenwich Group founder Walter Noel lost $7.5 billion with alleged Ponzi scheme scammer Bernard Madoff, but his wife oddly disputes that they were ever rich. “You write [that] our five daughters were brought up in the lap of luxury in their Greenwich estate. We don’t live in an estate. We live in a normal house that was a cottage on two acres,” Monica Noel, 66, defiantly told The Post’s Chuck Bennett from her swanky Park Avenue pad. Apparently, Monica forgot about the 2002 spread in Vanity Fair on that Greenwich “cottage” and the 2005 Town and Country feature on the family’s opulent tropical retreat on Mustique. “Our daughters went to public school,” Monica declared. One of those daughters, Alix Noel Toub, 41, also seems to have no memory of the family’s shameless self-promotion. “We are not press-hungry people,” she said when asked to comment on their financial losses.

    _________________________

    Since I went to GA with some of the girls, and my sister to Country Day with some of the others, perhaps Monica has simply forgotten where her daughters went to school?

  2. It’s very difficult to “pierce the corporate veil”

    Not at all! I did it with Gary Wendt at GE Capital, and it freaked his high-priced lawyers out. They kept screaming at me, “You’ve pierced the corporate veil” as though I had raped a thousand virgins. Believe me, piercing the veil was far less work!

    And of course they paid up, pronto. Not long thereafter Gary was taken to the cleaners by his wife in divorce court (Kevin Tierney assisting) and left GE. Cause and effect? Well, why not? 😉

    • christopherfountain

      But you, Bill are a tenacious nut job who won’t take no. Those of us versed in the law read precedent and say, “ok, you win!”. If I were a Sentry investor, I’d hire you to go retrieve my money.

  3. Anonymous

    I went to North Street School with Marisa until 3rd grade when she up and left to GA. So much for public school upbringing.

    These people deserve whatever comes to them, their arrogance is disgusting. As a life-long Greenwich resident it makes me so angry that people like the Noel’s are what become the “face” of Greenwich.

  4. CEA

    Hmmm. Page 4 on this, shows Marisa Noel at G.A., on the lacrosse team. Had my parents only known G.A. was a public school, they could have saved a LOT of money writing out those pesky checks they kept asking for!

    Click to access ghsAA94.pdf

  5. B1

    Writing again as a happily-retired litigator, I don’t see any way the Noels keep the Greenwich or New York properties. I think the Florida place may be a different story, given the Sunshine State’s (in)famous protection of “primary residences” from the hands of creditors.

    Couple of observations:

    Keep your eye out for the first attempt by an aggrieved Fairfield Sentry client to file a pre-judgment remedy lien against the home at 175 Round Hill. While it is likely to be unsuccessful, it will send a signal that the creditors are playing for keeps.

    Second, the Noel crime family would seem to fit very nicely into the Leona Helmsley / Martha Stewart profile of people who are prosecuted by the government not only for the substance of their wrongdoing but for the message it sends to their peer group. I don’t see any way the Noels can finance both a civil defense against Fairfield Sentry AND a criminal defense against the federal government without liquidating substantially all of their assets. According to Wikipedia (so apply the usual generous helping of salt), Jeff Skilling of Enron fame spent $40 MILLION on his criminal defense. And still got a 20+ year jail sentence.

    Given his age, I think Walter Noel gets something like a year and a day in jail, retains the home in Florida, and spends the rest of his life wandering the grounds of his estate wondering how things could have gone so wrong. Monica, of course, divorces him (see Kozlowski, Dennis), and runs home to the family in Rio. The daughters and sons-in-law contrive to remain outside the reach of US authorities (I think the precedent is Marc Rich in Zug, Switzerland), but quickly burn through their cash, coming to a variety of bad ends.

    That’s how I see it.