“With the great bubble of prosperity, you had all these aspirants to that world,” Mr. Columbia continued. “But since they are not part of it, they’ve actually created their own world—a satellite world which they call society, which it absolutely is not. They’re trying to create a hierarchy based on publicity, which is something that follows hierarchy—it doesn’t precede it.”
And he is not optimistic about the aspirants’ chances.
“They’ll be wiped out,” said Mr. Columbia. He was sinking his teeth into the buttered corn. “They’re almost all going to go.”
WHEN THE OBSERVER FIRST REACHED Justin Mitchell, the publisher of Social Life, to ask about the case of the disappearing Hamptonites, he said the fledgling magazine came out and folded. (“Of course he’d tell you that,” Mr. Vola said later.)
Social Life’s editor is a thin, pouty-lipped young woman named Devorah Rose, who has had guest spots on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York and NYC Prep.
“The whole sabotage rumor is hilarious,” Ms. Rose said. “Because literally we were so busy planning a dinner, hand-holding our talent and hosting an event that there is no time to sabotage anyone else!”
The day Mr. Vola found his magazines stolen, Ms. Rose and Mr. Mitchell were indeed preparing to host a soirée, at Solé East in Montauk. The magazine maintains two estates in the Hamptons: one in Watermill, where the parties take place; the other in Southampton, where they put up the advertisers that come to the parties.
“It’s completely fabricated—a total lie,” Mr. Mitchell said of Mr. Vola’s story. He suggested the incident might’ve been concocted to get attention from Page Six, where it was duly reported the week after.
“It was like Olivia Palermo versus Tinsley,” Ms. Rose chimed in. “They were trying to Olivia Palermo us!”
Yet John Wegorzewski, a press representative for the Southampton Inn, confirmed that a few hours after Mr. Vola’s magazines were dropped off, the hotel’s employees noticed them missing, replaced by copies of Social Life. He added that a colleague later reported copies of Hamptonite found in Sag Harbor and Southampton dumpsters.
Whoever is responsible for this malfeasance, it’s just the latest twist in a larger narrative of competition that has long existed among society magazines.
Joan Jedell, a former commercial photography agent, has been snapping pictures of celebrities, billionaires and their wives in the Hamptons for almost 12 years for her magazine, Hampton Sheet.
“I am a survivor!” Ms. Jedell told The Observer. “There are so many copycats. I was the first person who started the whole thing with the party photos, and then Jason Binn bought Hamptons magazine and now he believes he took over.”
One time, Ms. Jedell ran into Mr. Binn on the steps of a store in East Hampton.
“He always kisses me hello,” said Ms. Jedell. “But then he slipped my magazine into his as if to say, you should dissolve into mine.” (Mr. Binn didn’t recall doing this.)
Still, she holds Mr. Binn in higher esteem than the most recent arrivistes. “Social Life doesn’t interest me,” Ms. Jedell said, “because it’s like, ‘Who are these people?’”
Another new magazine, she thought, just smelled bad. “Like maybe it was mosquito poison.”
Ms. Greeven Cuomo, sister-in-law of Andrew, detached herself from the fray, but did remark: “The problem with the other ones is there is no regularity. Is it every month? Every other week? It’s very confusing.”
She told an anecdote about the actress Drew Barrymore getting shot for the cover of Gotham, then requesting to be on the cover of Hamptons instead.
“I said, ‘Ha! O.K.!’” Ms. Greeven Cuomo said.
According to Ms. Grubman, who admitted she is a “dear friend” of Mr. Binn’s, the taxonomy of these magazines goes like this: Avenue, Quest and Q feature an older society set and the many charity balls they attend; Hamptons and Gotham are more celebrity-oriented but still devote a fair amount of pictures to society; Hampton Sheet is mostly party photos; Social Life is younger and covers a sector of society that is more aspirational; and Hamptonite, well, it’s not clear yet.
One of Ms. Grubman’s clients is the model Jessica Hart, who was on the cover of Social Life’s June issue. She did not suggest Ms. Hart as a feature to Mr. Binn.
“It depends on what level of celebrity they’re at,” said Ms. Grubman of her pitch process.