News & Features

My Hamptons: Thuyen Nguyen, Beauty Guru and Spa Owner
May 27, 2017
Skin and body care specialist Thuyen Nguyen is one of the worst-kept secrets in the Hamptons. In-the-know locals and celebrities like Jimmy Fallon rave over his skin care. After years of formulating treatments for legendary beauties including Jennifer Aniston, Cindy Crawford, Uma Thurman, Katy Perry and Natalie Portman, Thuyen launched his own spa, FaceXercise Skin Fitness, in Wainscott. He also opened an outpost in New York City this past winter. BTH: What is the best part about your job? TN: What I offer people makes them feel beautiful, confident and more re-laxed than when they arrived. I grew up with more insecurities than average because I was so different from the All-American kids. It's full circle for me to help others look and feel their best while taming their own inner critic. BTH: You're all about wellness. What's an easy tip that a busy, stressed person can use to improve their health and wellbeing? TN: Whether it's a mani/pedi, soak in the bath or a quick foot rub, recharging is just as important as charging forward in your day. Women especially spend so much time caring for others, it's crucial to care for yourself. Letting go is crucial to your mental and physical well-being. I teach clients to mas-sage their face in the shower daily to improve their circulation and promise that it's the best home beauty secret you could incorporate. Nutritionally, I am adamant about green juice. You can't beat the fresh vitamins and antioxidants from a tall glass of raw vegetables. I love all the lush greens for my juice during farmstand season. BTH: How long have you been coming to the Hamptons? TN: I started coming out east in the late '90s to work with clients who summered here. When I wrapped up my role as the Spa Creative Director of Robert De Niro's the Greenwich Hotel, I had the opportunity to either open my own spa in the city or out here. Opening in Wainscott turned out to be a great idea since it caused me to set up a Hamptons home, which has enriched my life more than I ever imagined. BTH: Why do you like the East End? TN: Being a caregiver in my work, I am highly sensitive to energies from people and my surroundings. There is a distinct vortex of sacred energy that I feel driving to the Hamptons. It's why after living in NYC for 23 years, I choose to call the Hamptons my home and where my soul hangs its hat. BTH: What is your favorite Hamptons restaurant? TN: I have three restaurant crushes: Almond because I adore Eric and chef Jason's passion, Pierre's because I love anything French, and Highway because of Adam Lancashire. BTH: Describe your perfect day on the East End in detail. TN: Taking a ride with my French bulldog Wally. We relax with my friend Phyllis Landi who runs the ARF Treasure Shop. I often help her stage the furniture since it helps with sales which all goes to the rescues. Then Wally and I head home and I spend the late afternoon in my garden pruning plants and watching the deer. After all my time in the city as a social butterfly, I can't describe fully how much these peaceful moments out east heal me.
Everything You Need to Know About Hamptons Real Estate Right Now
May 26, 2017
Welcome back to the Hamptons and happy summer, all! If you fancy city people have been too busy running the world to pay attention to what’s been going on in Hamptons real estate (tsk, tsk, tsk), let’s get you up to speed before you hit the Jitney. First off, there haven’t been any giant, recordbreaking sales so far this year. Probably the most eyewatering new listing price is the $85 million asked for seven acres on Chauncey Close, including a new house to be designed by Steven Gambrel and built by Jeffrey Colle. Yes, the same property that didn't sell at $32 million. The best known new listing is Grey Gardens, the lovely East Hampton property made famous by the eponymous documentary. Listed for $20 million, the price quickly dropped $2 million. As for the quirkiest new listing, the winner must be Holly Lane, Water Mill. The listing is not on Holly Lane, it's Holly Lane itself, the street. There's about 1.25 acres of land, but it's mighty narrow in parts and local homeowners have easements over it to reach their properties. This being the Hamptons, where you can't walk ten feet without tripping over a celebrity (oops, sorry, Mr. Spielberg), celebs have been moving in and moving out. The biggest news lately was a Behind the Hedges scoop that made worldwide headlines; to wit, Robert Downey Jr was the purchaser, last summer, of East Hampton's beautiful Edward DeRose Windmill Cottage, c. 1885. It was listed with Peter Turino at Brown Harris Stevens, with a last ask of $11.9 million, although property records list a sale to Monona LLC last summer for $10.5 million. The property had been on and off the market over the past few years at various prices. Also new Hamptons homeowners are Neil Patrick Harris and husband David Burtka, who purchased a sprawling property on Hands Creek Road in East Hampton for $5.5 million. The house is known by some as the Orgy House, after the notorious Killing Kittens sex party of last summer was held there. We're sure it's all clean and fresh now, though. And yes, that was another Hedges scoop. A celeb who's just about had enough of the Hamptons is tennis great John McEnroe; his Squabble Lane, Southampton, home is in contract at $12.5 million. (Was it something we said, John?) Another seller was "Uptown Funk" songster Mark Ronson; he unloaded his cute contemporary beach house, just a block from the ocean in Amagansett, for $1.45 million. Not selling but also moving is musical legend Paul Simon. He's relocating  a guesthouse on his Montauk property away from the bluff edge. The cottage, built in 1950, was originally set farther back, but over the years, the land eroded (at a rate of about six inches per year) so that the building was only about 20 feet from the edge. Of course, restaurants come and go in the Hamptons like the summer sun. Behind the Hedges recently broke the news that the property formerly known as Cyril's, the longtime notorious bar/restaurant on the Napeague stretch, which closed a year ago, was in contract. Details are still sketchy but agent Lee Minetree told Hedges that a new restaurant is planned for the site. Hedges also scooped the world with the information that Ruschmeyer’s, the Montauk landmark, had been sold. Ruschmeyer’s most lately offered 20 hotel rooms, a restaurant, and bar. We understand that everything is being refreshed for 2017, including the long-gone swimming pool. For sale right now is the Lobster Inn in Shinnecock, asking $11.5 million. The waterfront property offers many options for a new owner: as a restaurant or developed as single family homes or townhouses. The zoning on the property would allow for 13 single-family homes and there is a variance in place for townhouses with the abandonment of restaurant use, though site plans or individual lots are not yet approved. Finally, we come to the feel-good story of the past few months: the efforts to save the beloved Sag Harbor Cinema, which was devastated by fire in December. The nonprofit Sag Harbor Partnership is in contract to purchase the building from owner Gerald Mallow. Planned is a new not-for-profit Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center (SHCAC), which would be committed to education, outreach, and programming for the East End year-round. The landmark façade of the Cinema will replicate the original; the iconic “Sag Harbor” sign, which was saved from the fire, will be repaired and reinstated. Donations, however, are critical to the success of the project. Please give what you can at this link. And thank you. Welcome back. It's going to be a great summer!
A Handsome North Haven Home with Pretty Gardens for $3 Million
May 25, 2017
One of the nicest things about North Haven is the peace and quiet, we think. And there will be plenty of that for the new owner of this property, as it's in the prestigious North Haven Manor community, with two private beaches to choose from, as well as a nature trail. Bored and want something more active? You're also close to community tennis, a basketball court, and a new playground. [caption id="attachment_60695" align="alignnone" width="750"] All photos via Sotheby's[/caption] The four-bedroom, three-bath house, which isn't huge at 2400 square feet, is set on 0.61 acres of pretty gardens and your own kidney-shaped salwater pool with stonework patio. There's an outdoor shower and even a sauna. Want more space? Convert the separate garage with loft into a guesthouse. The property, represented by John Christopher at Sotheby's, is asking $2.998 million. What do you think of the place? Let us know in the comments. For more information, click here7 Cedar Avenue, Sag Harbor
The Latch Pop-Up Inn Opens in Southampton with a Sleek New Look
May 24, 2017
Remember the Village Latch Inn? It was purchased by the Beechwood Organization, the folks behind Bishops Pond, and given a fresh new look for 2017. It's right in the heart of Southampton Village on Hill Street (walk to restaurants, shops, the movies) and is very reasonably priced, too. Now called the Latch Pop-Up Inn, the property boasts five acres, and as the former annex to the fabled Irving Hotel in the early 1900s, the ambiance is reminiscent of the great summer colony past. The first 20 refreshed rooms are now available for Memorial Day weekend, with plans to refurbish more underway. But wait, how can an inn be a pop-up? Owner Steven Dubb says, “We’re a pop-up in that we’re new, up and running fast and in a prime location. We want our guests to enjoy their Hamptons experience with fresh accommodations at refreshing prices. They can wake up to birds singing, be a five-minute walk to the Village or a five-minute ride to the beach. They will have a freshly decorated room with new bed and furnishings, flatscreen TV and wifi, and a nearby cup of morning coffee. All for as little as a couple of hundred dollars a night.” Nightly single and double occupancy guest rooms with private bathrooms are $125 - $300 weekdays and $175 - $650 weekends with premium pricing on holidays. Let's face it, that's very reasonable for the Hamptons! For more, click here101 Hill Street, Southampton
Welcome Summer With Behind the Hedges’ Hamptons Trivia Quiz!
May 23, 2017
Think you're a Hamptons expert? A newbie? Take our fun quiz and see how much you really know! [polldaddy survey="92BFA7C7790793D0" type="button" title="Take Our Quiz!" style="inline"] If the interactive version doesn't work for you, try this.  
  1. What is Red Horse Market named after?
a. Former owner Jerry Della Femina’s favorite horse, Red Baron b. A statue that was in front of a Levi’s store in the location c.  A famous Montaukett nicknamed Red Horse d.  The former name of the horse farm located across the street  
  1. Who is the former owner of Matt Lauer’s new home in North Haven?
a. Jerry Seinfeld b. Jimmy Buffett c. Richard Gere d. Christie Brinkley  
  1. Which artist is not associated with the Hamptons?
a. Andy Warhol b. Robert Motherwell c. Thomas Moran d. Jean-Michel Basquiat  
  1. Who was Kirk Park in Montauk named for?
a. Major General Norman T. Kirk, Surgeon General of the Army b. Captain James T. Kirk, UFP c. Colonel Thomas Kirk, Camp Hero commander d. Captain Franklin Kirk, HM Culloden commander  
  1. When was the Thomas Halsey Homestead originally built?
a. 1650 b. 1660 c. 1670 d. 1680  
  1. What is the name of the fake Southampton street in The Bonfire of the Vanities?
a. Drover’s Lane b. Ox Pasture Road c. Old Drover’s Mooring Lane d. Old Dune Lane  
  1. Why is Gin Lane called Gin Lane?
a. It’s named after a Hogarth print b. Gin bottles used to wash ashore during Prohibition c. It’s short for “Ginevra,” the former owner of an estate covering most of the area d. "Gin" is an old English term for a "common grazing area"  
  1. Captain Kidd supposedly buried treasure where?
a. Gardiners Island b. Robins Island c. Shelter Island d. Block Island  
  1. Where is the house pictured in the movie Something’s Gotta Give?
a. Further Lane, East Hampton b. Meadow Lane, Southampton c. Gin Lane, Southampton d. Hwy Behind the Pond, East Hampton  
  1. Where is Lasata, former home of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis?
a. Further Lane, East Hampton b. Meadow Lane, Southampton c. Gin Lane, Southampton d. Hwy Behind the Pond, East Hampton  
  1. What is Wainscott’s status?
a. Town b. Village c. Hamlet d. None of the above  
  1. Why did East Hampton purchase much of the Grace Estate?
a. To preserve open space b. To preserve scallop beds c. To avoid subdivision d. All of the above  
  1. Goody Garlick was the only woman ever accused of witchcraft in East Hampton. What happened to her?
a. Was tried and acquitted in Connecticut b. Was tried and acquitted in East Hampton c. Died before her trial d. Escaped to Connecticut  
  1. How many non-resident East Hampton Village beach parking permits are sold every year?
a. 3000 b. 2500 c. 1000 d. 500
  1. How much did Barry Rosenstein pay for his oceanfront East Hampton property in 2014?
a. $107 million b. $127 million c. $147 million d. $67 million   Answers: 1 b, 2 c, 3 d, 4 a, 5 b, 6 c, 7 d, 8 a, 9 b, 10 a, 11 c, 12 d, 13 a, 14 a, 15 c
East End Listing Exchange is Kaput; East End RE Association Disbands
May 22, 2017
We swear it wasn't us. On Friday, after Behind the Hedges published a long post about the failure of East End Listing Exchange, the East End Real Estate Association announced via a release that they had "decided to discontinue the development of the East End Listing Exchange, a proposed new listing system for the East End, and disband the EEREA." In the post, we cited the listing service site's poor usability, lack of information, and dearth of advertising. The industry, aside from the participating firms, was unenthusiastic. Geoff Gifkins of Nest Seekers mentioned, “This was also a for-profit business which would have benefited the founding agencies. That’s a great conflict of interest." The final nail in the coffin, of course, came from the sale of HREO/RealNet to the Zillow Group, who are actively listening to brokers' concerns and lowering fees. The press release from EEREA mentioned that "its members will likely renew an effort to form or join a professional real estate organization in the near future, reexamining technology options at that time." We hope they'll keep in mind conflicts of interest as well as the need for superior technology and a better end user experience.  
The Rise and Fall of East End Listing Exchange in the Hamptons
May 19, 2017
Here in the Hamptons, HREO has been the de facto multiple listings service for the past twenty years or so. But fed up with its high fees, last autumn, several large real estate firms in the area tried to topple HREO from its throne with a new service called the East End Listing Exchange or EELE. Why has HREO been dominant? (To explain further, is the consumer platform and RealNet the broker system; the database both use, all owned by the same company, is called OREX, aka the Open RealNet Exchange.) MLSLI has never gained traction in the East. The reason most East End brokers don’t use MLSLI is simple: with MLS, participants can advertise one another’s exclusive listings, and Hamptons agents don’t want some broker from Ronkonkoma diluting their commission on a valuable deal. Zillow and Trulia are becoming more and more popular, as they’re pretty and easy to use, but they focus on consumers, not brokers. HREO/RealNet/OREX, therefore, has basically been the only game in town. In addition to the fees, which could be as much as $1 million a year for a large firm, brokers felt that the company was indifferent to their needs and concerns. So in fall 2016, a consortium of large real estate firms decided to take matters into their own hands with a new shared listing platform. East End Listing Exchange charged a one-time membership fee (based on company size) and then low annual fees. EELE’s initial rollout including listings from five huge firms: Douglas Elliman, Corcoran, Saunders, Brown Harris Stevens, and Sotheby’s. EELE planned to go live on the web in January, with the member firms planning to switch their listings from HREO to the new platform. And then, mic drop. January 12, it was announced that Zillow Group had bought, RealNet and OREX. Suddenly it seemed like there might be life in the old platform after all. Not helping matters was the site itself. For consumers, there’s zero reason to use it. It’s not particularly attractive, it’s not comprehensive when it comes to listings, and it doesn’t offer much information. With all the firepower of the participating agencies, why did it look so bad? Why didn’t EELE realize they needed a gorgeous site and a compelling reason for users to go there? Why didn’t they come out with a splashy ad campaign? As winter melted into spring, many of the firms that were gung-ho on EELE gave up. Elliman and Sotheby’s both stopped inputting new listings into the service, and word on the street is that Corcoran agents have been told not to bother as well. Other larger agencies, such as Town & Country, Compass, and Nest Seekers, never had any listings there. Geoff Gifkins, Regional Manager at Nest Seekers, told us, “We didn’t join EELE, and most likely won’t if it remains in its current form. Although this was touted as the second coming and revolutionary for the business, it was simply an off the shelf old MLS that they tried to adapt to this market. It failed miserably on all levels, something that should have been vetted well before the launch. “This was also a for-profit business which would have benefited the founding agencies. That’s a great conflict of interest. The bylaws gave full decision authority to the founding members, not the agent base; this again was poorly thought out and egregious to the agent base it was supposed to serve. We only saw future conflicts waiting to happen. It is unusual for the governing body to control the database and profit from it; these are usually single and separate. “On a positive note EELE did introduce competition to the market. With the sale of RealNet to Zillow, costs have fallen dramatically.” As for HREO/RealNet/OREX, according to brokers, it’s become much more responsive to agents’ concerns. Matt Daimler, general manager of HREO/RealNet at the Zillow Group, told us, “Since the acquisition, we’ve been swift to assess and react to pain points from HREO’s customer base. One of those pain points was cost and we have reduced the brokerage membership costs by about 40% on average. We are also heads down with a growing team that’s committed to listening to, and building solutions for, our industry customers moving forward.” We asked if HREO will have any synergy with Zillow or StreetEasy going forward. Matt said, “We’re still working through the details, but establishing synergy between our brands is always important. Our goal is to help the seller, landlord or broker get maximum exposure for their listing as accurately and quickly as possible. For buyers and renters hunting in the Hamptons, we want to provide them with access to the most comprehensive, accurate source of listings and information. Having information seamlessly move across our brands and platforms is key to attaining these goals. “We’re excited to rejuvenate and invest in the Hamptons. There is a lot of opportunity to build a stronger, hyper-local resource in the Hamptons—on desktop and mobile—that brings listings, data and content together to help connect buyers and renters with the home they’re looking for. The Hamptons is a unique market and we’re going to build experiences that are tailored for it.” Looks like HREO’s position at the top of the heap on the East End is secure for now.
Robert Downey Jr Buys the Historic Windmill House in East Hampton
May 17, 2017
Word has it that actor Robert Downey Jr, best known for the Iron Man franchise, is the purchaser of the historic Edward DeRose Windmill Cottage, c. 1885. It was listed with Peter Turino at Brown Harris Stevens, with a last ask of $11.9 million, although property records list a sale to Monona LLC last summer for $10.5 million. The property had been on and off the market over the past few years at various prices. [caption id="attachment_60620" align="alignnone" width="750"] All photos via BHS[/caption] The house is an example of windmill architecture—it never was a real mill but it's an accurate copy of an original East Hampton windmill. The rather gorgeous flag lot includes a generous four acres of land. In addition to the main house with offices and libraries in the windmill part, as well as a master suite with sundeck, there's a two-bedroom guest house, a studio, a three-car garage with potting shed, 50' pool, tennis court, lovely gardens with brick walls and tall hedges. [caption id="attachment_60622" align="alignnone" width="750"] All photos via BHS[/caption] If you were the purchaser, Robert, congrats on your excellent taste and welcome to the Hamptons!
The Cyril’s Property Is in Contract; New Restaurant Planned for Site
May 17, 2017
Cyril's, the longtime notorious bar/restaurant on the Napeague stretch, closed permanently a year ago after many disputes with East Hampton Town. Cyril Fitzsimmons, the restaurant owner, closed the place down and the owners of the land and building, from whom Cyril leased the property, put it up for sale. Asking price for the 0.57-acre plot along with the building was $1.495 million; it was listed with commercial specialist Lee Minetree at Saunders. And now the property is in contract. Details so far as sketchy, as agent Lee Minetree doesn't want to give specifics yet, but Lee did confirm to Behind the Hedges that a new restaurant is planned for the site. The listing notes, "Site plan approval is in place for a 62-seat bar/restaurant with a total capacity of 150 and expanded parking." BBCs for all? (The Banana Bailey's Colada was Cyril's signature drink.) For more, click here. 2167 Montauk Highway, Amagansett
Please Pay $1.5 Million for a Single-Wide Montauk Trailer
May 16, 2017
Deep-pocketed waterman looking for a surf shack? Billionaire looking for a place to stash your boards? Just got a spare $1.5 million burning a hole in your pocket? Have we got a 550 square foot home for you. [caption id="attachment_60586" align="alignnone" width="750"]trailer All photos via Compass[/caption] We've seen a bunch of trailers (sorry, condominium units) change hands at Montauk Shores over the years, but this is a new high in prices, at least that we can recall. Of course your lavish 0.03 acre plot is oceanfront, and there's empty space next to it, which is nice. There's a deck for relaxing outside, and while the two-bedroom, one-bathroom unit is cozy, to say the least, it's all white and in simple good taste. The property is represented by Greg Burns and Matt Burns at Compass. And, of course, Montauk Shores comes with some cool amenities including a pool, kiddie pool, playground, clubhouse, and so on. So, if you've got the money, this is a great low-stress option in trendy Ditch Plains. For more, click here100 Deforest Road, Montauk
Where Do the Hamptons Actually Start and Finish? A Poll
May 15, 2017
Where do the Hamptons begin? And end? At the Shinnecock Canal? Is Westhampton part of the Hamptons? How about Montauk? The phrase "the Hamptons" was originally used in a book called The New Long Island: A Handbook of Summer Travel, which was a promotional piece from the Long Island Rail Road published in 1879. It's fairly clear that back then, Westhampton was most definitely considered part of the Hamptons, and the Shinnecock Canal had nothing to do with it, probably because the canal didn't exist then. But that was then, this is now, so we're putting it up to a vote. As always, if you have something to say, let us know in the comments!  
On Buell Lane, Trad on the Outside, Rock ‘n’ Roll on the Inside
May 12, 2017
This house, on a pretty village street, is a simple white shingled traditional on the outside that merely hints at the cool modern interior. Designed by James D'Auria Architect, the house is 4000 square feet with four bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms. The living room ceiling is 15 feet tall; on one side there's a limestone patio and on the other, there's an interior courtyard with white marble chips and ginkgo trees. [caption id="attachment_60556" align="alignnone" width="750"] All photos via Halstead[/caption] The 0.63-acre plot, generous enough for the area, also features a pretty 50' gunite pool and a pavilion nearby. The all-white interior and exterior are very appealing, as is the simple modern landscaping. Asking price for the property, represented by Jennifer D'auria at Halstead, is $4.990 million, which might be a bit high. On the other hand, there isn't a thing to do but move in and the transitional style will win a lot of fans. What do you think of the place? For more, click here. 39 Buell Lane, East Hampton