Nassau County will pay over $632,000 to the owner of an eight-acre Old Brookville chateau-styled estate, settling one of the largest residential tax refunds the county has settled in recent memory. NewsdayTV's Scott Eidler reports. Credit: Johnny Milano, Kendall Rodriguez; File Footage

Nassau County will pay more than $632,000 to the owner of an eight-acre Old Brookville estate, and cut the nearly $25 million assessment by $13 million, in one of the largest residential tax settlements in recent memory, legislative and state court records show.

In December, the Nassau County Legislature approved settlement of an "excessive assessment" claim filed in 2020 by a company known as “Old Brookville Residence South Dakota LLC.”

The company, listed as the owner of the estate on Northern Boulevard in Old Brookville, had sought tax refunds dating to 2020-21.

Taxes on the property for 2020-21 were more than $504,000, county records show. Taxes in 2021-22 were more than $490,000, according to county records.

The 23,000-square-foot home was modeled on the Chateau de Versailles and the Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte in Maincy, France.

Its listing described a ballroom inspired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's French rooms; a foyer with Italian marble floors; a chandelier made of gold and crystal Baccarat; and a staircase with a bronze and wrought iron banister.

Past owners of the property have sought high prices for the estate.

In 2017, Raphael Yakoby, creator of Hpnotiq and Nuvo liqueurs, listed the property for sale at nearly $100 million, Newsday and other publications reported at the time.

Yakoby is a former manager of the LLC that owns the property.

In 2018, the eight-bedroom mansion hit the market again for $60 million, according to news reports.

The $13 million tax shift resulting from the county's settlement will affect property owners in the North Shore School District, the Town of Oyster Bay and Nassau County, experts said. 

Nassau Legis. Debra Mulé (D-Freeport), who voted against the settlement along with other Democratic county legislators, called the agreement "outrageous."

After the county Assessment Review Commission denied challenges to the county's $25 million assessment, "then the county attorney just unilaterally decided to knock that in half to $12.5 million, which is resulting in $632,000 to this one person," Mulé complained.

"I believe it's emblematic of the administration's disregard for the county's taxpayers and the administration's promise to fix the assessment system," Mulé told Newsday. "Everyone around will have to absorb the loss." '

Officials in the administration of County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican who took office in 2022, defended the settlement.

Referring to the administration of Democratic County Executive Laura Curran, whom Blakeman defeated in 2021, county spokesman Chris Boyle told Newsday: “As part of the previous administration’s error-riddled assessment, the value of this home was miscalculated by millions of dollars, leaving the taxpayers to foot the bill. The county executive will continue to fix the errors made in the past to make the assessment more fair, accurate and transparent.”

Blakeman administration officials say they've developed a more precise way of valuing high-end properties. 

Nassau Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said, “Based on the advice of the county attorney and the appraisals, the settlement was in the best interest of Nassau taxpayers. The alternative would be to defend a value that would not be accepted in court and subject taxpayers to a greater tax refund plus interest."

Richard Cronin, a lawyer for the LLC who challenged the assessment, declined to comment.

Valuing high-end properties is a complex and risky process, according to real estate experts. 

"Finding comparable property is probably going to be very difficult when you're dealing with very high-end. Those are very unique properties to begin with," Mark Sunderman, a professor at the University of Memphis in Tennessee who specializes in real estate and property tax issues, told Newsday. 

Larry Clark, the retired director of strategic initiatives for the nonprofit International Association of Assessing Officers, said: “Any time there’s a reduction in assessed value, unless there’s a similar percentage reduction in budgets, then the tax rates will have to increase."

Nassau County usually tries to settle property challenges before assessment rolls are set; that way, the county is not responsible for refunding overpayments to taxpayers.

Nassau Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said the county assessment department must find a way to capture the true cost of high-end renovations when valuing properties such as the Old Brookville estate.

Abrahams said the settlement reflects "flaws in the system," in which the county has difficulty valuing unique properties with "extremely extravagant finishes."


 

Nassau County will pay more than $632,000 to the owner of an eight-acre Old Brookville estate, and cut the nearly $25 million assessment by $13 million, in one of the largest residential tax settlements in recent memory, legislative and state court records show.

In December, the Nassau County Legislature approved settlement of an "excessive assessment" claim filed in 2020 by a company known as “Old Brookville Residence South Dakota LLC.”

The company, listed as the owner of the estate on Northern Boulevard in Old Brookville, had sought tax refunds dating to 2020-21.

Taxes on the property for 2020-21 were more than $504,000, county records show. Taxes in 2021-22 were more than $490,000, according to county records.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Nassau County agreed to pay a $632,916 settlement to the owner of an Old Brookville mansion who filed a court claim over previous assessments.
  • The county also agreed to reduce the property's value of nearly $25 million by $13 million.
  • Experts say the burden will be shifted to other taxpayers and could mean higher tax rates for them.

The 23,000-square-foot home was modeled on the Chateau de Versailles and the Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte in Maincy, France.

Its listing described a ballroom inspired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's French rooms; a foyer with Italian marble floors; a chandelier made of gold and crystal Baccarat; and a staircase with a bronze and wrought iron banister.

Past owners of the property have sought high prices for the estate.

In 2017, Raphael Yakoby, creator of Hpnotiq and Nuvo liqueurs, listed the property for sale at nearly $100 million, Newsday and other publications reported at the time.

Yakoby is a former manager of the LLC that owns the property.

In 2018, the eight-bedroom mansion hit the market again for $60 million, according to news reports.

The $13 million tax shift resulting from the county's settlement will affect property owners in the North Shore School District, the Town of Oyster Bay and Nassau County, experts said. 

Nassau Legis. Debra Mulé (D-Freeport), who voted against the settlement along with other Democratic county legislators, called the agreement "outrageous."

After the county Assessment Review Commission denied challenges to the county's $25 million assessment, "then the county attorney just unilaterally decided to knock that in half to $12.5 million, which is resulting in $632,000 to this one person," Mulé complained.

"I believe it's emblematic of the administration's disregard for the county's taxpayers and the administration's promise to fix the assessment system," Mulé told Newsday. "Everyone around will have to absorb the loss." '

'Miscalculated by millions'

Officials in the administration of County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican who took office in 2022, defended the settlement.

Referring to the administration of Democratic County Executive Laura Curran, whom Blakeman defeated in 2021, county spokesman Chris Boyle told Newsday: “As part of the previous administration’s error-riddled assessment, the value of this home was miscalculated by millions of dollars, leaving the taxpayers to foot the bill. The county executive will continue to fix the errors made in the past to make the assessment more fair, accurate and transparent.”

Blakeman administration officials say they've developed a more precise way of valuing high-end properties. 

Nassau Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said, “Based on the advice of the county attorney and the appraisals, the settlement was in the best interest of Nassau taxpayers. The alternative would be to defend a value that would not be accepted in court and subject taxpayers to a greater tax refund plus interest."

Richard Cronin, a lawyer for the LLC who challenged the assessment, declined to comment.

'Flaws in the system'

Valuing high-end properties is a complex and risky process, according to real estate experts. 

"Finding comparable property is probably going to be very difficult when you're dealing with very high-end. Those are very unique properties to begin with," Mark Sunderman, a professor at the University of Memphis in Tennessee who specializes in real estate and property tax issues, told Newsday. 

Larry Clark, the retired director of strategic initiatives for the nonprofit International Association of Assessing Officers, said: “Any time there’s a reduction in assessed value, unless there’s a similar percentage reduction in budgets, then the tax rates will have to increase."

Nassau County usually tries to settle property challenges before assessment rolls are set; that way, the county is not responsible for refunding overpayments to taxpayers.

Nassau Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said the county assessment department must find a way to capture the true cost of high-end renovations when valuing properties such as the Old Brookville estate.

Abrahams said the settlement reflects "flaws in the system," in which the county has difficulty valuing unique properties with "extremely extravagant finishes."


 

Nassau's $632,000 settlement

Recent county valuations: $24.9 million in 2023-24 and 2022-23; $23.5 million in 2021-22 

Property value reduction: $13.8 million for 2021-2022 tax year

County settlement: $632,916, plus interest

Property listing in 2017: $100 million

Features: 23,000 square feet, 8.4 acres

Taxes in 2020-21: $504,196

Taxes in 2021-22: $490,228

Taxes in 2022-23: $164,589

Source: Nassau County property records, real estate listings, state court records

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