Ronald Lauder’s Pretty Preserve; Time Warner Prez Enters Celebrity Zone

AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE, RONALD LAUDER’S PRETTY PRESERVE Cosmetics baron Ronald Lauder continues to buy up the


Cosmetics baron Ronald Lauder continues to buy up the land around Wainscott Pond, sometimes known by his neighbors as Lauder Lake. In December, Mr. Lauder purchased a 40-acre potato farm on Wainscott Hollow Road for $5.5 million from the Szcze-pankowski family, who have farmed in the area for many years.

Mr. Lauder and his family already own over 100 acres in the area, partly, Mr. Lauder has said, to keep the property safe from encroaching developers. In fact, it’s hard to see how this checkbook conservationism would be confused with estate-expansionism: The latest purchase isn’t even contiguous with Mr. Lauder’s other property.

“He wouldn’t even pass it on the way to his house, necessarily,” noted one local broker.

While lovely and filled with woodland animals, Wainscott Pond is mostly sought after because from many houses you can see both the pond and the beach. Writer Shana Alexander and Michael Kennedy, lawyer for Susan McDougal, live in the vicinity, as does former Time Warner chairman Steve Ross’ daughter, Toni Ross. The Georgica Association, a WASP sanctuary, is also nearby.

Still, every purchase by Mr. Lauder makes some of his neighbors shudder. Several years ago, Ms. Ross, part-owner of Nick & Toni’s restaurant in East Hampton, had her view intruded on when Mr. Lauder moved a 150-year-old Greek Revival church onto some of his property from its home upstate.

“He can control his view-and the views of his neighbors … Now he’s gone off in another direction,” one nearby resident said.

Mr. Lauder has remarked that his Lebensraum is really about preserving the land’s natural beauty. He was not available for comment.


In 1795, the City of New York bought a parcel of land from Trinity Church for $5; that land became Duane Park. A couple of years later, streets were laid out around it for town houses. In the 19th century, those houses were replaced by warehouses built for dairy merchants, grocers, fruit preservers, coffee and spice millers, and cracker and biscuit bakers. Artists moved into the lofts in the 70’s, seeking space and light, followed by the celebrities (Harvey Keitel, Naomi Campbell, David Letterman, Robert De Niro, Isabella Rossellini, Wesley Snipes) and the restaurants to feed them (Nobu, Montrachet, Bouley). Now that all the regular humans are gone, it has settled into a kind of famous-person aquarium. Which makes it safe for a few suits to move in. And they’re not paying $5, either: According to real estate sources, the new owner of this penthouse, in a freshly converted, 25-unit doorman building that allows pets, will be none other than Richard Parsons, president of Time Warner Inc. (Mr. Parsons didn’t return calls.) With the arrival of Mr. Parsons- whose “simple formula for success” (according to the trade magazine Electronic Media last November), which was “instilled in him growing up in Brooklyn and Queens,” was “hard work, individual responsibility and traditional values”-the celebrification of the neighborhood may be changing. After all, before he was president of Time Warner, Mr. Parsons was an aide to Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, general counsel for President Gerald Ford, managing partner for Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler and chairman of the Dime Savings Bank. Plus, he’s been friends with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for 23 years, give or take a few months last year when the Mayor was trying to, in Mr. Parsons’ phrase, be a “bully or vigilante” to get Fox News on Time Warner cable. He’s no Naomi Campbell. He’s just going to live in her neighborhood. Ronald Lauder’s Pretty Preserve; Time Warner Prez Enters Celebrity Zone