Something to think about while you trundle around the city looking like Nanook of the North: The Giuliani partners- Rudy and Judi-are busy moving fine furnishings into their new summer house in Water Mill!
Yes, early December reports that the couple-who have been looking for ages-found their own piece of the Hamptons and were about to close were so true they were false: They’d already closed on a custom-built $3.2 million home by late November, according to real-estate sources. The gravel-throated Sunny Mindel said she’d look into it, but we hadn’t heard back by deadline.
It’s a monster: 6,000 square feet! (On one acre!) The tan and cedar-shingled traditional house sits on a perch high above the Southampton Polo Field, with the Atlantic gamboling along the horizon beyond. The floors inside are made of cypress; a large “great room” (that usually means kitchen and den combined) and a paneled library on the ground floor both have fireplaces. Then there’s the eat-in kitchen with white Carrera marble counters opening onto a formal dining room. Not far from the scullery is a staff bedroom and bath, which itself is adjacent to a two-car garage.
Upstairs, Rudy and Judi will have a master suite that includes a sitting area with its own fireplace and terraces overlooking the ocean. (Well, first a horse farm, then the ocean, which has its good and bad sides.)
Clients and friends alike are relegated to the less-romantic-sounding four ” ensuite” bedrooms, according to the original listings. (Isn’t it the bathrooms you’re supposed to say are “ensuite”?)
And what country home would be complete without-a finished basement! This one has a steam room, a media room and a wine cellar as well as “additional staff quarters.”
During the day, it’s drinks with Peter Jennings, a nearby neighbor, on the covered porches that overlook the patio and Gunite pool and spa.
Gary DePersia of Allan M. Schneider Associates Inc. had the exclusive listing on the property, representing the sellers, Farrell Building Co., a Bridgehampton-based firm that specializes in custom homes. They built the house on one acre of cleared land, which had been sold in April of 2004 for $815,000, an industry source said.
Farrell’s not like those firms you see on TV advertised by Erik Estrada, where even people with bad credit can get a shingle split-level in a planned community in Oklahoma. Farrell famously has the capital to buy and sell land in the few spots remaining between and among celebrities’ longtime Hamptons camps. “[E]ach Farrell home is custom built to reflect the character and personality of our client,” the builder’s Web site boasts.
Oh, look down on custom-built houses, if you must. You’re probably a renter. And if so, watch your step.
The Hamptons are becoming increasingly rife with bad renters running around, well, like they own the place, according to Hamptons regulars.
Of course, a three-month stay that costs six figures is a substantial investment. But increasingly, Manhattanites are viewing that rental stake as justification for making elaborate (and sometimes bizarre) modifications.
“They forget they don’t own the property,” said Micki Dion, Corcoran senior vice president, regarding this entitled class of renters. She recalls a tenant who whitewashed all of the owner’s furniture-including armoires, Chippendale chairs and a cherrywood dining-room table-to create what she considered to be the ideal beach house. How could anyone rent a Gold Coast property with such antiquated, non-white décor? Not surprisingly, the owner didn’t share the tenant’s sense of interior decorating and was forced to hire a well-known furniture refurbisher to undo the amateur whitewashing.
“The Hamptons have become a very dangerous place to rent,” said Sally Seims, owner of a 5,800-square-foot Tuscany Stucco Traditional in Water Mill. A couple of years ago, she rented her house for $119,000 to a “nice couple in [their] late 60′s,” believing that the quaint-looking pair wouldn’t cause much damage. The six-bedroom, six-and-a-half-bathroom house came complete with a library, pool, tennis court and guinea hens that the owner dubbed “The Magnificent Seven” because of their outstanding tick-eating abilities on the five-acre spread.
“If you have guinea hens on your property, they are like guard dogs,” said Ms. Seims. “At nighttime, they fly to the treetops.”
Ms. Seims’ summer tenants didn’t share the owner’s admiration for the Magnificent Seven. Likening the incident to “Mommie Dearest” viciously pruning the rose bushes, Ms. Seims said that her mature juniper trees-ranging from 10 to 15 feet in height-were “hacked to pieces” by the couple in hopes of removing the cackling hens. They had planted the junipers a few years earlier, and three local companies searched in vain to replace the beloved trees.
“Even if it’s a nice, sweet elderly couple, do not rent to anybody,” advised Ms. Seims, who has put the house on the market for $3.1 million.
Several years ago, a Manhattan woman read the rules but didn’t quite understand the stipulation “no pets,” recalled Ms. Dion. In the tenant’s mind, her two Park Avenue–reared Yorkies were distinct from the outer-borough barking rabble.
“They’re not pets. These are my babies!” she exclaimed.
The pampered pooches, wearing sparkling diamond collars, were eventually permitted to stay (but with double the security demanded).
While many tenants skirt the rules, owners sometimes ignore the fine print in the lease when it’s convenient for them, too. The condition of the house, including paintings adorning the walls and the furniture inside, is expected to be the same as when the prospective tenant originally saw the house.
Kent Rydberg, managing director of Corcoran Westhampton Beach, recalls a “magical house” decked out in an elaborate tropical motif. The four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom Sag Harbor property was decorated with jungle bed covers and boasted a pool with waterfall and even an eight-foot-tall wooden giraffe, giving it the feel of living in a Tahitian paradise. (Are there giraffes in Tahiti?) A single stockbroker was enthralled with the house, only to find it stripped bare of the rain-forest aesthetic when she arrived in the early summer.
“[The owners] said she had seen the house with the winter decorations,” said Mr. Rydberg of the newly ” summerized” interior. Having deviated from the contract, the owners spent the weekend restoring the jungle-like décor as originally billed.
Hedge-fund executive Zack Hampton Bacon III has gotten cold feet about selling his neo-Georgian townhouse at 123 East 69th Street. In October, Mr. Bacon, the former fiancé of Diandra Douglas, Michael Douglas’ ex-wife (she divorced the Hollywood actor before he took up with Catherine Zeta-Jones in 2000), listed his 20-foot-wide mansion between Park and Lexington avenues for $10.75 million. About a month later, Mr. Bacon pulled the nearly 8,000-square-foot home off the market, according to his broker, Sami Hassoumi of Brown Harris Stevens, who shared the listing with Eileen Robert of Halstead Property.
In the heady luxury market being pumped up by flush Wall Street bonuses, Mr. Bacon’s townhouse would seem like a prize property. The house was built between 1872 and 1873, with an exterior renovation added in the 1930′s. The residence has six bedrooms, eight wood-burning fireplaces, a wood-paneled library and a terrace topping the fourth floor. Other details that surely would have lured buyers from the Wall Street flotsam include an elevator, a gym with a sauna, and an indoor waterfall in the entry hall.
Mr. Hassoumi declined to comment on Mr. Bacon’s decision to pull the plug on the listing. The move is the latest turn in a tortured split between Mr. Bacon and Ms. Douglas that has spanned both coasts and posh enclaves like Aspen. According to previous reports, which were even followed over on West 43rd Street by The New York Times last summer, Mr. Bacon-who along with his brother Louis owns a private polo field at the family’s Southampton estate-clashed with Ms. Douglas over where their children would be raised. He sought to bring their newborn twins up in New York, while she wanted to raise the children at her mansion in the Santa Barbara hills of California. Last May, after four years together, Ms. Douglas filed a temporary restraining order against Mr. Bacon and even had him taken away by the local sheriff in handcuffs. According to reports, the judge in the case refused to make the order permanent, and the charges were later dismissed.
Mr. Bacon, a partner at the multibillion-dollar hedge fund Moore Capital Management- part of the Moore Capital Group, with offices in New York, Washington, D.C., and London-purchased the townhouse for $5.8 million in March 2002, city real-estate records show.
Television moguls have a penchant for fine real estate. Of course, there’s Rupert Murdoch, overlord of the News Corp. empire, who landed the late Laurence Rockefeller’s triplex penthouse atop the limestone co-op at 834 Fifth Avenue for a stratospheric $44 million. Also making waves last year, CBS chairman Leslie Moonves snapped up a nine-room apartment at 535 Park Avenue, the exclusive limestone co-op on the northeast corner of 61st Street, for some $5.6 million, just a skip a way from the network’s famed headquarters at Black Rock.
And now, Russian television mogul Igor Malashenko has bought a $5.3 million condo in Carnegie Hill. Never heard of him? The former president of NTV-one of Russia’s first independent television channels to sprout up in the early post-Soviet years-purchased a 4,100-square-foot spread in the luxury development at 47 East 91st Street, city real-estate records show.
Alexa Lambert, a broker with Stribling and Associates, who sold the place, declined to comment. Mr. Malashenko was traveling and unavailable for comment.
The spread was delivered as raw space and has five bedrooms, steel casement windows from England, white oak floors and a wood-burning masonry fireplace.
Mr. Malashenko’s apartment sits in the new nine-story building just off Madison Avenue on 91st Street that was built atop a one-story Citibank branch in 2003 ( Woody Allen, eat your heart out!). One of the few high-rise buildings in the Carnegie Hill Historic District, it now comprises seven full-floor apartments plus a top-floor duplex covering some 5,800 square feet (and with a 2,100-square-foot wraparound terrace) that was recently purchased for $14 million by former Citigroup investment-banking chairman Eduardo Mestre, who is now vice chairman at Evercore Partners.