Nevis Ahoy! Brice Marden Turning Sleepy Island Into Social Paradise

transombrice marden Nevis Ahoy! Brice Marden Turning Sleepy Island Into Social ParadiseThis summer, New York’s best-paid living artist, Brice Marden, and his wife, painter Helen Harrington, have been busy refurbishing the latest addition to his real estate empire: the run-down old hotel he bought in Nevis, the island in the West Indies, in 2006.

“It’s a beautiful old place, but I mean, seriously, who goes to Nevis?” said a source familiar with the layout, which consists of around a dozen cabana huts. “They’ve got all their friends moving there. They’re trying to turn Nevis into the next St. Barths or whatever.

“I think they want to build up the value and then sell it,” the source added, who noted Mr. Marden’s history of savvy real estate investments. (Among Mr. Marden’s other properties are a 5,000-square-foot studio on West Street, a country house in Tivoli, N.Y., and a home in Greece.) A little art world chic could go a long way!

Among the New York notables who have bought property on the island since the Mardens set up camp are billionaire socialite Anne Bass and her boyfriend, painter Julian Lethbridge. Last summer, Padma Lakshmi and her pals dropped anchor and came to shore just to say hi. (That won’t work for just anyone, though, the Transom hears—the exclusive inn is just for friends.)

“Apparently, it’s quite the spot now,” said another source close to Ms. Bass. She has told him that—compared with the various other island beaches she’s been known to wiggle her toes in—Nevis is “very peaceful and not overrun. And the locals are not surly.”

Indeed, one of the problems with Mr. Marden’s inn, which he and his wife have apparently redecorated to perfection, is the staff. “They’ve been there for like a hundred years,” said the first source. “So, they’ve been having a tough time training them.” Mr. Marden did not respond to a request for comment.

smorgan@observer.com