$17 million ‘Gatsby’ Mansion Listed For Sale
Do you have $16.88 million lying around? If you do, you can buy the Long Island house that helped shape The Great Gatsby.
The 13-bedroom waterfront home, at 235 Middle Neck Road in Sands Point, was once owned by Mary Harriman Rumsey, a railroad heiress whose brother, W. Averell Harriman, was governor of New York. It was there that author F. Scott Fitzgerald spent some time with his friend Rumsey.
In Gatsby, the Rumsey estate appears in slightly modified form, as Gatsby’s own house: “a colossal affair by any standard—it was a factual imitation of some Hôtel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool and more than forty acres of lawn and garden.”
Today, no ivy is evident, nor is there a swimming pool, and the plot is 5.3 acres. Still, it’s quite stately. While it may have seemed extravagant in 1928, when McKim, Mead & White completed it, in 2017 it looks positively restrained compared with some other Long Island properties.
“Obviously, it’s so imposing—you drive down and see the sweeping views,” said Nava Mitnick, a broker with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International who’s representing the property. “But when we entered the house, I described it as a ‘glorified cottage,’ because it’s so homey.” The Mai family, which is selling the house, put millions into a gut renovation.
Even more intriguing are the current owners, James and Chiara Mai. As president of Cornwall Capital, James (Jamie) Mai was part of the crew of investors that predicted the 2008 financial collapse, made zillions, and became stars characters in The Big Short, the Michael Lewis book and hit movie.
Wittrock told The New York Times in 2015 that Mai “said that he still has this sense of frustration that no one paid attention” to the coming financial crisis, even as he and his partner warned of it. “They were screaming about this as loud as they could, but everyone turned a deaf ear. A lot of our guys didn’t want to use their real names for this movie—we had to change their last names. I think they felt they were burned in the process of trying to get their voices heard.”