The remarkable history behind this notorious LI estate now under contract


A stately and timeless exterior, marble inlay floors, six fireplaces, a charming guest cottage, garage space for eight cars and a whopping 27 acres of beautifully landscaped property.

The estate at 873 Cedar Swamp Road in Old Brookville is all about Gold Coast grandeur and elegance. But it comes with as checkered a past as any living space on Long Island.

If the mansion could talk, it would regale us with a chilling tale of an infamous murder, recount the extravagant ownership by a sex-crazed Bahraini prince, and share whispers of its time under the care of the owner of a Triple Crown-winning horse.

Built in the mid-1920s for a yachtsman and attorney named Carroll B. Alker — shortly after his marriage to Katherine Ingalls — the six-bedroom, eight-bathroom Georgian brick manor decades later was named “Sunninghill,” after the original owner sold the property in the late 1960’s.

It hit the market last year for $7.5 million, and this week, the realty agency handling the sale announced that an offer has been accepted and the estate is in contract.

“Sunninghill estate is more than a home,” Nancy Cuite with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Laffey International Realty says in a promotional video about the property. “It’s a piece of Long Island’s illustrious past and an invitation to shape its bright future.”


But at some point, illustrious took a dramatic shift to notorious. That point came in 1978 when uber-wealthy real estate developer Lawrence Lever, 53, was slain during a brazen dinnertime robbery, just as he had started to relax in his den after coming home from work.

The ‘Dinnertime Bandit’ strikes

The man who was eventually caught and served 15 years in jail for the killing was renowned “Dinnertime Bandit” Alan Golder. He struck dozens of wealthy homes — before and after he served time for Lever’s slaying — while the occupants ate.

The New York Times reported that Lever, whose home housed a million-dollar art collection that featured Monets and Picassos, was shot in the chest as he and his wife, Carol, 45, struggled with two masked men after they strode into the den and demanded valuables. In addition to the fatal gunshot, a $40,000 diamond ring was pulled off Carol Lever’s finger during the chaotic confrontation, according to the report.

Notorious “Dinnertime Bandit” Alan Holder (Source: Facebook, Unsolved Mysteries)

While out of prison on parole in 1996, Golder, a Lynbrook native, led authorities on a nationwide manhunt after he became a wanted man for a fresh string of burglaries. He was eventually nabbed in 2007, after living in Europe as a fugitive of the law for a decade.

The ‘sex-crazed’ prince

During Brunei Prince Jefri Bolkiah’s turn of owning Sunninghill in the 2000s, he clearly made the home his own. But the sordid details of which weren’t made public until 2010 in a Manhattan courtroom.

First things first. A little about Prince Jefri: He owned thousands of custom-made cars, 17 private jets, and a $19 million party superyacht he called “Tits.” Nicknamed “the sex-crazed prince” in the media, Prince Jefri reportedly maintained a harem of 40 women.

The prince — who is younger brother to one of the wealthiest people on Earth, Sultan of Brunei — encountered legal issues related to Sunninghill and its controversial decor. In 2010, Prince Jefri sued two of his financial advisors, claiming they sold the estate for significantly less than its value; the prince closed a sale on the property for $11.7 million.

But complicating his case were life-sized X-rated statues that depicted the prince and his latest fiancée at the time performing various sexual acts. The six sexually graphic figures were created for around $1 million and were positioned around the swimming pool at Sunninghill.

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The prince sought to prevent the statues from being shown in court to avoid further embarrassment and potential prejudice against him, because “polygamy is offensive to many Americans​,” his court filing reportedly said. He lost the case and ended up being ordered to shell out $21 million to pay for the defense lawyers and other damages.

Seattle Slew owner

During the 1980s, Jim Hill, part-owner of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, owned and lived at Sunninghill. Alker, the estate’s original owner, operated a stable and raised thoroughbred horses on the property.

But it’s unclear if Seattle Slew spent any time at Sunninghill. Notably, a May 9, 1977, New York Magazine article reported that the legendary racehorse’s jockey Jean Cruguet lived in Brookville and commuted to Belmont Park while Seattle Slew was stabled there.

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There’s no denying the majesty of Sunninghill

Its storied past notwithstanding, Sunninghill remains a stunner.

With just under 10,000 square feet of living space, the sprawling residence boasts six generously sized bedrooms and eight bathrooms, accompanied by six inviting fireplaces. Additionally, the estate’s garage space features spacious living quarters above.

Sunninghill’s wealth of recreational amenities includes a 1/4-mile trail, pool, pool house and tennis court. The main house exhibits excellent structural integrity with recent upgrades, such as all new custom Marvin windows, a new slate roof with copper leaders and gutters, and updated air conditioning and boilers, according to the real estate listing.

Natural light bathes the interior of the home, thanks to the home’s floor-to-ceiling windows and doors. The home also features a first-floor master suite.

An inside-outside peek at Sunninghill

Below is a video tour of the property at 873 Cedar Swamp Road in Old Brookville.

The property “presents a unique opportunity to own a piece of Long Island’s prestigious architectural history,” according to the real estate broker description. “Embrace the chance to restore this exquisite Brick Georgian Manor to its original grandeur, preserving its rich history while infusing it with contemporary style and comfort.

Sunninghill Estate in Old Brookville

Photos: Facebook, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Luxury Connection

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