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Mapping the Most Unneighborly Real Estate Grinches of 2012

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Real estate news has been rife with a crotchety, curmudgeonly, cranky, and crabby cast of characters this year, which may either be pure coincidence or, as some studie have suggested, part of a growing American trend. Take the billionaire owner of the country's largest private home (a stalled project that's now one of the country's largest follies), who got a case of the crazies and threatened to fire all of his employees, and the—count 'em!—two professional athletes (one past, one present) currently embroiled in heated, much-publicized arguments with neighbors. Meanwhile, homeowners associations are out to ax out all traces of individual expression, and a war vet in Indiana didn't see what could possibly be wrong with erecting an effigy of a "masked President Obama hanging from a noose in his front yard." Below, 10 of the most notable grinches of 2012—feel free to tack on additions in the comments.


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1. Daniel Goldstein

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297 15th St
Brooklyn, NY 11215

The fiercest critic and longest holdout of Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards project eventually accepted the $3M buyout to move so construction on Barclays Center could commence. Goldstein dropped $812K on a townhouse in the neighborhood of South Slope, freeing up more than $2M to add a deck, a hot tub, and a "horizontal extension" of the property. Disturbed by the noise, his neighbors filed six complaints with the Department of Buildings, and the construction has gotten so bad that the homes on either side of Goldstein's have been listed and sold. As Curbed NY wrote, one of the city's most neighborly "has maybe forgotten how to be a neighbor."

2. David Siegel

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6121 Kirkstone Ln
Windermere, FL 34786

As if billionaire timeshare titan David Siegel didn't destroy his reputation enough in the megalomaniacal quest to build the country's biggest private home—its first days of construction and ultimate stalling out was chronicled in the 2012 documentary The Queen of Versailles—he actually threatened to fire his employees if Obama was reelected. "I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company," he wrote in a hotheaded email. "Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back."

3. Matty Moroun

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956 Lake Shore Rd
Grosse Pointe Shores, MI 48236

Manuel "Matty" Moroun is the owner of Detroit's Ambassador Bridge, a privately owned international border crossing from Michigan to Canada with one end located in southwest Detroit. When the local government made moves to build a competing bridge, the billionaire dumped $33M into what amounted to a propaganda campaign against the public bridge. Meanwhile, he owns Detroit's most iconic ruin monument, the decaying train station known as Michigan Grand Central. That he would spend so much money on ads, and not the building Detroit would like most to see redeveloped, was an outrage.

4. Eric Smith

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State 39 & Rte 47
Washington, IN 46052

One of the craziest Halloween-decorating tiffs of the year, hands down, emerged from Boone County, Ind., where an Iraq War vet erected "masked President Obama hanging from a noose in his front yard." Despite the obvious lynching theme, Eric Smith maintained, "I am married to an African American woman so I guess it would be hard to say I am a racist against black people." Pressured by community outrage, Smith eventually took the effigy down and said the whole thing was "blown out of proportion."

5. Stapleton Master Community Assoc.

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2823 S Roslyn St
Denver, CO 80238

In the community of Stapleton, a cranky homeowners association banned the summertime tradition of sidewalk chalking because "anything that offends, disturbs or interferes with the peaceful enjoyment isn’t allowed." Residents were appropriately confused: "It’s summertime and God forbid my daughter is drawing flowers, her name and hearts,” said one woman.

6. Euclid Management Homeowners Assoc.

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19756 Paso Robles Dr
Riverside, CA 92508

Another lame-sounding homeowners association pulled the plug on Riverside, Calif.'s famous "Party Rock" house, a festive display synchronized to the LMFAO single. The new rules, banning "extreme" holiday lights, paid no attention to the fact that the homeowner had spent "five years conceptualizing and perfecting his light display"—or the fact that some 2,000 people a night drove out to see it last year.

7. Andrew Bynum/Bynum's Old Neighbors

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7412 Denrock Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90045

Before Andrew Bynum was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers from the Lakers, he and his neighbors didn't fare so well. He's now sued Ramond and Cindy Beckett, claiming they "object" to his "profession, his race, his friends, his cars, and his taste in music" and engaged in "throwing coins at his Ferrari (which chipped the paint), screaming at him about his music, and even banging the side of his house with 'a long stick.'" The Becketts, in turn, have filed a countersuit claiming the NBA center "brandished firearms to intimidate them," blasted "loud, profane rap music" and played video games at "window-shaking volumes," allowed his dogs to run loose in the neighborhood, let pot smoke drift next door, among other offenses.

8. Vincent Gallo

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1850 Industrial St
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Although actor and director Vincent Gallo invested in the Los Angeles Arts District Business Improvement District years ago—in 2009 he bought Nicholas Cage's penthouse loft in the neighborhood—he came out publicly against the beautification program, claiming it provided "no benefit" to the area. It's a good thing he's just sold that penthouse, lest some urban-revitalization nuts come after him with sticks.

9. Hanna and Sandy Suleiman

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900 Lombard St
San Francisco, CA 94133

Tired of tourists constantly hanging around their front door angling for a close-up of the house from Hitchcock's 1958 classic Vertigo, Hanna and Sandy Suleiman erected a stucco wall in front, redesigned the entryway (which was prominently shown in the film), and stuccoed over the brick chimney. Film buffs aren't happy, accusing them of ruining a piece of history, but the Suleimans argue that "pop culture history" isn't the same thing as, like, "history history." Another argument? Don't buy one of the country's many houses made famous by movies and assume you'll be left alone.

10. John Olerud

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9421 Northeast 20th Street
Clyde Hill, WA 98004

Here's what former Seattle Mariners first-baseman John Olerud has been up to lately: spewing biblical verses at his neighbor, Rev. Bruce Baker, about a 50-year-old Chinese pine tree on Baker's yard. Olerud, aggravated that the eyersore "only an arborist would love" has blocked his view of the Seattle Space Needle, he said, "If you're willing to cut down your own trees to maintain your view and yet you aren't willing to offer that to your neighbor, how is that being a good neighbor? The Bible says, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.'"

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1. Daniel Goldstein

297 15th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215

The fiercest critic and longest holdout of Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards project eventually accepted the $3M buyout to move so construction on Barclays Center could commence. Goldstein dropped $812K on a townhouse in the neighborhood of South Slope, freeing up more than $2M to add a deck, a hot tub, and a "horizontal extension" of the property. Disturbed by the noise, his neighbors filed six complaints with the Department of Buildings, and the construction has gotten so bad that the homes on either side of Goldstein's have been listed and sold. As Curbed NY wrote, one of the city's most neighborly "has maybe forgotten how to be a neighbor."

297 15th St
Brooklyn, NY 11215

2. David Siegel

6121 Kirkstone Ln, Windermere, FL 34786

As if billionaire timeshare titan David Siegel didn't destroy his reputation enough in the megalomaniacal quest to build the country's biggest private home—its first days of construction and ultimate stalling out was chronicled in the 2012 documentary The Queen of Versailles—he actually threatened to fire his employees if Obama was reelected. "I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company," he wrote in a hotheaded email. "Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back."

6121 Kirkstone Ln
Windermere, FL 34786

3. Matty Moroun

956 Lake Shore Rd, Grosse Pointe Shores, MI 48236

Manuel "Matty" Moroun is the owner of Detroit's Ambassador Bridge, a privately owned international border crossing from Michigan to Canada with one end located in southwest Detroit. When the local government made moves to build a competing bridge, the billionaire dumped $33M into what amounted to a propaganda campaign against the public bridge. Meanwhile, he owns Detroit's most iconic ruin monument, the decaying train station known as Michigan Grand Central. That he would spend so much money on ads, and not the building Detroit would like most to see redeveloped, was an outrage.

956 Lake Shore Rd
Grosse Pointe Shores, MI 48236

4. Eric Smith

State 39 & Rte 47, Washington, IN 46052

One of the craziest Halloween-decorating tiffs of the year, hands down, emerged from Boone County, Ind., where an Iraq War vet erected "masked President Obama hanging from a noose in his front yard." Despite the obvious lynching theme, Eric Smith maintained, "I am married to an African American woman so I guess it would be hard to say I am a racist against black people." Pressured by community outrage, Smith eventually took the effigy down and said the whole thing was "blown out of proportion."

State 39 & Rte 47
Washington, IN 46052

5. Stapleton Master Community Assoc.

2823 S Roslyn St, Denver, CO 80238

In the community of Stapleton, a cranky homeowners association banned the summertime tradition of sidewalk chalking because "anything that offends, disturbs or interferes with the peaceful enjoyment isn’t allowed." Residents were appropriately confused: "It’s summertime and God forbid my daughter is drawing flowers, her name and hearts,” said one woman.

2823 S Roslyn St
Denver, CO 80238

6. Euclid Management Homeowners Assoc.

19756 Paso Robles Dr, Riverside, CA 92508

Another lame-sounding homeowners association pulled the plug on Riverside, Calif.'s famous "Party Rock" house, a festive display synchronized to the LMFAO single. The new rules, banning "extreme" holiday lights, paid no attention to the fact that the homeowner had spent "five years conceptualizing and perfecting his light display"—or the fact that some 2,000 people a night drove out to see it last year.

19756 Paso Robles Dr
Riverside, CA 92508

7. Andrew Bynum/Bynum's Old Neighbors

7412 Denrock Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90045

Before Andrew Bynum was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers from the Lakers, he and his neighbors didn't fare so well. He's now sued Ramond and Cindy Beckett, claiming they "object" to his "profession, his race, his friends, his cars, and his taste in music" and engaged in "throwing coins at his Ferrari (which chipped the paint), screaming at him about his music, and even banging the side of his house with 'a long stick.'" The Becketts, in turn, have filed a countersuit claiming the NBA center "brandished firearms to intimidate them," blasted "loud, profane rap music" and played video games at "window-shaking volumes," allowed his dogs to run loose in the neighborhood, let pot smoke drift next door, among other offenses.

7412 Denrock Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90045

8. Vincent Gallo

1850 Industrial St, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Although actor and director Vincent Gallo invested in the Los Angeles Arts District Business Improvement District years ago—in 2009 he bought Nicholas Cage's penthouse loft in the neighborhood—he came out publicly against the beautification program, claiming it provided "no benefit" to the area. It's a good thing he's just sold that penthouse, lest some urban-revitalization nuts come after him with sticks.

1850 Industrial St
Los Angeles, CA 90021

9. Hanna and Sandy Suleiman

900 Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Tired of tourists constantly hanging around their front door angling for a close-up of the house from Hitchcock's 1958 classic Vertigo, Hanna and Sandy Suleiman erected a stucco wall in front, redesigned the entryway (which was prominently shown in the film), and stuccoed over the brick chimney. Film buffs aren't happy, accusing them of ruining a piece of history, but the Suleimans argue that "pop culture history" isn't the same thing as, like, "history history." Another argument? Don't buy one of the country's many houses made famous by movies and assume you'll be left alone.

900 Lombard St
San Francisco, CA 94133

10. John Olerud

9421 Northeast 20th Street, Clyde Hill, WA 98004

Here's what former Seattle Mariners first-baseman John Olerud has been up to lately: spewing biblical verses at his neighbor, Rev. Bruce Baker, about a 50-year-old Chinese pine tree on Baker's yard. Olerud, aggravated that the eyersore "only an arborist would love" has blocked his view of the Seattle Space Needle, he said, "If you're willing to cut down your own trees to maintain your view and yet you aren't willing to offer that to your neighbor, how is that being a good neighbor? The Bible says, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.'"

9421 Northeast 20th Street
Clyde Hill, WA 98004