Fabulosity, Lawyerly Lairs, Litigators, Private Equity, Real Estate, Wall Street

Lawyerly Lairs: Star Litigator Bails Hedge-Funder Out of $8 Million Mansion

Eugene Stearns Eugene E Stearns 250 Cape Florida Drive D John Devaney Above the Law blog.jpgHere’s a sign of changing times: lawyers are picking up luxury real estate holdings that hedge fund guys can’t afford to keep.
From the Daily Business Review:

A high profile Miami litigator is expanding his real estate holdings on Key Biscayne.

Attorney Eugene E. Stearns and his wife, Diana, purchased a two-story home at 250 Cape Florida Drive for $8 million Aug. 31 from United Real Estate Ventures owned by trader D. John Devaney.

The 7,852-square-foot house has eight bathrooms, six bedrooms and a first-floor master suite. The house built in 1985 features cathedral ceilings.

Who says the Miami real estate market is dead? A thousand bucks a square foot, for a single-family house not on the island of Manhattan, doesn’t sound half-bad.
Discussion continues after the jump.

So who is Eugene Stearns, and how did he amass such wealth?

He is a shareholder, chairman and president of the Miami firm Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson and serves as the chairman of the litigation department.

One of his most notable roles was as lead trial counsel in a class action suit against Exxon on behalf of 11,000 station owners. They won a $1.1 billion verdict against the company, which had then become ExxonMobil. Stearns Weaver received $249 million of $325 million in legal fees authorized in the case.

Other clients Stearns has successfully represented include Ivax, BankAtlantic, the Ocean Club, First Union and golfing great Jack Nicklaus.

What about the seller, D. John Devaney? He’s a hedge fund manager, CEO of United Capital Markets and United Capital Asset Management. And it seems that these aren’t the best of times for him:

[Devaney] ran into trouble in the subprime meltdown and has put some personal items on the market.

In July, Devaney placed his 142-foot yacht Positive Carry up for sale. He was asking $23.5 million for the boat with four Jacuzzis. The following month, his company’s Sikorsky S76C helicopter was placed on the market for $10.955 million.

He also is looking for a buyer for his 16-bedroom Aspen, Colo,. property, the Sardy House, which he has owned for less than a year.

In July, Devaney blocked withdrawals from the Horizons ABS Fund he manages after investors tried to pull out. One accounted for a quarter of the assets. The $620 million fund had lost more than 30 percent of its value in June.

So next time you’re feeling envy towards your hedge fund or i-banker friends, just remind yourself: “At least I still have a job.” When the party is over, as it someday will be, those who reaped the biggest gain will feel the greatest pain.
(But lawyers aren’t completely exempt from economic cycles. Law firms can do layoffs too, y’know.)
Update: In response to this comment by Loyola 2L, we say: “Sure! Care to you email photos of your apartment (with commentary) to us? We will totally post about it.”
Transfer: High-profile litigator buys island home [Daily Business Review]

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