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Large crowd of shoppers, gawkers line up for estate sale at “animal house” on Todt Hill

Jun 05, 2023

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The line of shoppers and curiosity-seekers started to form before sunrise on Saturday at a home on Todt Hill Road where large statues of animals and fanciful creatures have attracted the attention of drivers for years.

A massive estate sale is being held this weekend at what has been aptly nicknamed the “animal house.” A couple of the iconic lawn ornaments are being sold along with a myriad of household items, decorations, designer clothes and shoes, luxury furniture and appraised art work.

Drivers were gawking as they slowly passed by the home where small groups of people were being allowed in at a time to browse hundreds if not thousands of wares.

The queue started around 4:30 a.m., said Nanette Pettersen, the estate liquidator who predicted that the crowds will continue to gather until closing time at 5 p.m. on Saturday. “The line will never end,” she said.

“It’s been, for lack of a better phrase, a zoo,” joked Charlie De Biase Jr., a senior sports reporter at the Advance/SILive.com who is working at the sale.

The line of shoppers and curiosity-seekers started to form before sunrise on Saturday at a home on Todt Hill Road where large statues of animals and fanciful creatures have attracted the attention of drivers for years. (Courtesy/ Rebeka Humbrecht)

The organizers were delighted with the support from the public.

“It’s going extraordinarily well because there’s obviously a lot of good stuff here,” De Biase said. “It’s definitely more than just an average sale. As you can see by the line, there’s a lot of interest in what’s going on and people are here to buy things.”

He noted that there are some deals to be had on quality items sold at less than retail prices.

When asked how the sale was going, Pettersen said, “insane, crazy,” adding that over 50 shoppers perused the goods in the first two hours of the sale and that “every single person has been buying and spending hundreds.”

Before noon she had already sold about $10,000 in clothing, among the most popular items for shoppers.

Staten Islander were waiting patiently in line to see what was behind the huge front door.

“I recognized this house from driving back and forth to Todt Hill and I’ve actually never been to an estate sale before and so seeing how many statues they had on the outside, I was really curious to see what’s going to be inside the house,” said Emily Kirk of Willowbrook whose interest was peaked by a post about the sale on SILive.com. “I’m really looking for some cool pieces that I can hopefully find while I’m inside.”

The Fortunato sisters, Michelle, Lisa, Kristina and friend Nancy Mameli were waiting in the queue for close to two hours when they spoke to an Advance reporter.

“We live over in this area and we used to drive past it every day and so we saw that they were selling stuff and want to see what they have and what the house looks like,” Michelle Fortunato said.

One of the most unusual things for sale is the statue of a buffalo or bison priced at about $6,000 that is guarding an entrance to the backyard. De Biase noted that the iconic symbol of the wild west is one of only two major statues offered since the others have been claimed by the new owner.

De Biase said there are copious amounts of holiday decorations that his father, Charlie Sr., his nephew, Vincent, his son, William, and himself spent over an hour bringing down from the former owner’s attic -- “endless box, after box after box, they really decorated it big time for the holidays.”

Billed “The Most Infamous Sale of the Year, ‘Part I,’” by Pettersen’s firm, continues on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 724 Todt Hill Road.

The iconic home first hit the market at $3.99 million in July of 2022 and, according to Zillow, dropped in price twice over the past eight months – first to $3.49 million on Nov. 18 and to $3.35 million on Jan. 18. Located directly across the street from Staten Island Academy, the house was built in 1960 and is situated on 0.98 acres of land. It features seven bedrooms and eight bathrooms and was marked as “in acceptance” on both the Connie Profaci and Staten Island Board of Realtors (SIBOR) websites this past April.

“Upon entering the gated circular driveway, you are transported to a European villa in this prestigious neighborhood with a high-tech security system and three-car garage,” the listing boasted. “Walking through the custom wrought iron double doors, you are captivated by the two-story entry foyer adorned with birdseye maple wood floors, a floating staircase, Schonbeck crystal chandeliers and hand-painted moldings.”

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