By Paresh Dave
2:11 PM PST, February 25, 2014
A prominent New York real estate developer and socialite told investigators he has no idea who shot him at his expansive Long Island estate, police said.
Gary Melius, 69, remained in stable condition Tuesday about 24 hours after a masked gunman fired three rounds as he entered his car at Oheka Castle, authorities said. Melius was hit in the head, but got the attention of a family member, who drove him to a hospital.
Melius lives on the estate, described by property managers as the nation's second-largest private home. It also hosts weddings and other special events.
Police dogs, air crews and officers on the ground searched for the gunman, to no avail. Suffolk County Police Det. Sgt. John O’Sullivan told reporters Tuesday that they were reviewing security camera footage and investigating possible cars in the area.
Melius was targeted, authorities said, and thus was being guarded around the clock.
In a statement, Melius thanked well-wishers “from the bottom” of his heart.
“I look forward to coming home,” he said. “I look forward to getting back to work. And I look forward to welcoming families and friends who come to Oheka for its hospitality and warmth.”
Melius regularly rents the castle for political parties, overnight guests and special events such as weddings. Among the couples who have married there are former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and Huma Abedin, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and Douglas Brunt, and Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers band and Danielle Deleasa.
The 109,000-square-foot chateau, double the size of the White House, was completed in 1919 as a Gilded Age summer party house for investment banker Otto Kahn. Oheka is derived from his name: Otto Hermann Kahn. After Kahn's death, Oheka's website says, his image inspired the Mr. Monopoly character.
A guest room at the castle can be rented for as little as $395 a night, according to an online rates list.
Melius bought the mansion and 23 acres around it in 1984 from a military school for $1.5 million. The castle had electrical and plumbing issues, and Melius has spent at least $30 million on renovations, according to its website. Real estate tracking website Zillow values the estate at nearly $9 million.
Reports have described Melius as well-connected in the political world, and local lawmakers were among those wishing him well this week. Melius has donated at least $164,000 to political campaigns across four states since 1998, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. He has donated nearly $47,000 more to federal campaigns since 2010, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
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