When Manhattan real estate heir Robert Durst was arrested in a New Orleans hotel on murder charges this past March, the strange and notorious case reverberated all the way back to South Salem, NY. It was there in that Westchester County outpost, on January 31, 1982, after an argument in their lakeside cottage, that Durst’s first wife, Kathleen, went missing.
Thirty-three years later, and with the jailed millionaire real estate heir and his crack legal team still waging a battle to earn his acquittal, Durst’s former home in South Salem has been upgraded and transformed into a compelling 3-bedroom. 4-bathroom retreat overlooking Lake Truesdale. It is also now listed for sale for $1.1 million.
As outlined in dozens of media stories and brought to harrowing life in the HBO miniseries “The Jinx,” it was laid bare that Durst’s psychopathically sinister connection to three murders started at 62 Hoyt Street in South Salem, NY. It was there that the son of Manhattan real estate developer Seymour Durst, who made billions building office towers along Third Avenue after World War II, had moved with his wife, Kathie, a medical student nearing completion of her studies.
As an abused wife who told friends to investigate if she went missing, Kathie Durst’s legacy hangs over South Salem — a bucolic outpost about 1.5 hours north of Manhattan. But while the story of this home may brazenly start with a murderous real estate heir, but it has a whole, other NYC twist to its reappearance on the market.
In 2013, Durst’s home was purchased by Vincent Farrell, a prominent financial strategist and founder of Spears, Benzak, Saloman & Farrell, Inc. After selling that company to KeyCorp. for billions, Farrell later went on to become a prominent and revered financial analyst, appearing on CNBC and Bloomberg News and advising Oliver Stone on how to portray the Wall Street villain Gordon Gekko.
Unfortunately, a year after purchasing the home, Farrell died there in 2014 of cancer. His wife, Clotilde, said that Farrell continued to work in Manhattan throughout cancer treatment, which he received after work at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital. Now, however, it appears that Clotilde Farrell has had a change of heart about the South Salem home. The list price is well under the $1.6 million she and her husband paid two years ago.
With the home back on the market, it’s only natural that the gruesome events of January 1982 come back into focus. The “mystery” of Kathie Durst’s disappearance has been exhaustively chronicled and investigated over the years. Friends and prosecutors have fought relentlessly for Durst’s arrest in connection with the disappearance — a crime Durst all but admitted in the shocker ending of the HBO series.
But with Durst’s arrest, and his HBO admission that he killed all three people he has been accused of killing, it’s only confirmation about what everyone already suspected about Durst. In 2001, The New York Times chronicled Durst’s creepy return to South Salem, where he pondered the scene of the crime.
When Robert A. Durst returned to South Salem in Westchester County last spring, a neighbor noticed him seemingly lost in thought on a dock at Lake Truesdale, behind the tree-shrouded stone cottage he once shared with his wife, Kathleen.
It was his birthday and their wedding anniversary, though she had vanished 19 years earlier. A small man with a wiry frame, he had been moving restlessly through California, Connecticut, Texas and Manhattan since he broke with his wealthy New York real estate family a decade ago. His friends regarded him as a brilliant man with an eccentric sense of humor, while others who knew him described a darker figure, given to fits of rage.
The state police and the Westchester district attorney had been seeking him for a year to go over his account of his last night with his wife, the night she vanished. Investigators had also wanted to interview one of his closest friends and confidantes, Susan Berman. But she had been found murdered in her Benedict Canyon home in Los Angeles last Christmas Eve, shot in the back of the head.
Mr. Durst’s reverie on the dock suddenly ended when a neighbor strolled down to the lakefront. He quickly jumped into his blue Saab and drove away. He soon after told his sister, Wendy, the only family member he really spoke with, that he was going to disappear for a while; he would not be picking up phone messages or his mail.