Behind the Hedges Superlatives ’18

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While some would say it was an off year for Hamptons real estate, that is just in comparison to past years. Things are never dull in East End property. We saw a flagship property sold, a stunning new farm assembled from old buildings, and a stunning new home meant to evoke an old barn. Hamptons real estate made headlines in the political news cycle, while the North Fork saw the highest residential sale in a decade. Here’s to the year that was . . .


Kudos to Bespoke Real Estate for brokering the sale no one else could manage: Villa Maria.

The lovely house and beautiful property with the lousy location finally sold this year after a whopping 10 years on and off the market. The beautiful c. 1919 estate includes a 20,000 square foot principal residence; there’s also a gatehouse, guest house, carriage house, tennis and pool. The house, which used to be a retreat for nuns, was purchased back in 2005 by Nine West founder Vince Camuto and wife for $35 million. Then the Camutos put the house and the 15-acre spread through six years of total renovation.

The Camutos were asking $100 million (a price “open to discussion”) back in 2008. Other asking prices have been $85 million, or $67 million, or $50 million with only seven acres included, all with different agents and agencies. With a last asking price of $72 million, in February, two individual buyers paid a total of about $49 million for the place. One buyer purchased the house and 11 acres for $36 million, and another buyer purchased the remaining four acres for about $13 million.

Why did it take so long? The estate is right on Montauk Highway in the spot with the worst traffic in the Hamptons. For the kind of money asked for the property, a buyer could get oceanfront. It was going to take a special buyer to fall in love and fork out with the cash, so of course it took a long time. Well done.


To Gary DePersia, who renamed Tick Hall “Cavett’s Cove.” Tick Hall is a legendarily beautiful and magical estate, one of the Montauk Association houses built by McKim, Mead and White in 1882. But it’s simply not an easy sale; last year, the property was put on the market by owner Dick Cavett asking $62 million. It didn’t trade. Now the property has been relisted at a much more realistic $48.5 million, with Gary DePersia and Karen Kelley at Corcoran, and it’s been renamed.

We get it. Tick Hall is a pretty shivery name for most people (it was originally dubbed Tick Hall because of all the ticks visitors picked up in the garden), and using Cavett’s name for the property reinforces the celebrity aspect. Until now, Cavett’s Cove was simply the sandy ocean beach in front of the property.

Cavett told Behind the Hedges last year, “There are bigger houses, and houses with more bells and whistles. But there is not a more magical place in all the world.” We tend to agree–whatever it’s named.


To Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who forfeited his rather nice Water Mill property after a plea deal admitting conspiracy against the U.S. and witness tampering. The 2.37-acre property includes a 5,500 square foot house, with 10 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms. There’s a tennis court, pool, spa, pool house, basketball half court, formal gardens and a putting green.

Manafort’s landscaper testified about caring for “one of the biggest ponds in the Hamptons” and a white-and-red flower bed by the driveway in the shape of an M. No word if the Feds are changing the flower bed to spell out U-S-A.


To Mike and Kerry Gaynor, who renovated and then sold a beautiful horse farm on Narrow Lane in Sagaponack. The Gaynors are getting well known for gorgeous restorations of old buildings.

The three acres of Narrow Lane Farm were once a potato field. Now, a total of 10 buildings are on the property, along with a fruit orchard and private vineyard. The “Marconi barn,” the first telegraph station on Long Island, is now the pool house. There are five barns in all, as well as a main house, a restored 1920s farmhouse, a two-car barn style garage with an apartment and sunken terrace with hot tub. Two of the barns are built for entertaining, while there’s also plenty of room for horses and a space for grooms as well.

Considering how beautifully everything was redone, it’s no wonder that the farm sold within weeks for almost full price, which was $12.5 million. Well done to horse-loving agent Dana Trotter and the Gaynors, who donated part of the proceeds to a horse rescue.


To Compass agent Lori Schiaffino, who finally got 19 Chauncey Close, East Hampton, sold after three years on the market. We subscribe to the idea that a property is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it, so we admire agents who coax reluctant owners into cutting an unrealistic asking price.

The property, which consists of two parcels right on Georgica Pond with ocean views, first came to market in 2015 asking $45 million. Of course that’s a huge price for non-oceanfront, even given the generous size of seven acres. (We’re ignoring an early 2017 listing of the property asking $85 million, which would have included a new mansion to be built by Jeffrey Colle and designed by Steven Gambrel.) Part of the house, built in 1994 by Wall Street titan

Carl Tiedemann, comes from a c. 1520 barn from Hever Castle in England, home of the Boleyn family. The old beams still bear 16th-century adze marks. Very interesting, but still, the price was simply too high.

Schiaffino got the property sold this year for $24 million, a discount of $21 million over the original. Realistic wins the day. Congrats to all.


Some restaurants in the Hamptons have the lifespan of a mayfly. This year seems to have been particularly active when it comes to eateries or restaurant buildings for sale. In September, the Blue Duck Bakery in Southampton lost its lease and Bay Burger in Sag Harbor closed, with the building put up for sale. The Old Stove Pub in Bridgehampton also closed, after more than 50 years, and the building is for sale.

Starr Boggs, in Westhampton Beach, sometimes called the best restaurant in the Hamptons, was put up for sale asking $4 million. Also in Westhampton Beach, the Beach Bakery Grand Cafe is now available for sale for the first time in 30 years. The business is available turnkey for $5.75 million.

Silver’s, the iconic lunch-only Main Street, Southampton, restaurant, was set to close by the end of the year, after 95 years in family hands, but the owner’s son decided to take it over. Also in Southampton, La Parmigiana on Hampton Road has had its building listed for the past year, currently asking $5.3 million–$1.5 million down since initial ask. For $2.65 million, a budding restaurateur could scoop up 75 Jobs Lane. The 60 seat restaurant, currently called Le Chef, is right across from Agawam Park.

The iconic Murf’s Tavern, on Division Street in Sag Harbor, has been in business more than 50 years. The 1792 building is currently in contract at $3.5 million. In Napeague, which is Native American for “Restaurant Available for Longterm Lease,” the site of Cyril’s lies empty. Want to start it back up again? Just $1.4 million purchases the 0.55 acres of land as well as a 1,050 square foot building.  While we’re sad to see many old favorites go, we’ll be interested to see what takes their places.


Pictures don’t do justice to 53 Sagg Main, Sagaponack. You have to experience its calm, serene spaces for yourself.

The house itself is a modern, industrial-style barn next to Sagaponack farm fields, with its own 3.5 acres of bucolic rolling grass. By local boutique builder Debra Simon, the house’s simple, airy design combines industrial touches (steel support beams, left exposed, a modern floating staircase, massive masonry fireplaces) with rustic elements (exposed wooden beams, ceramic tile). The house was inspired by a dairy barn on Martha’s Vineyard, which is fitting given its site next to a 90-acre agricultural reserve. Out back is a stunning zero edge pool with floating spa and waterfall, and a poolhouse with lounge and loft.


“Turnkey.” Yes, yes, we get what it’s supposed to imply, but just skimming through listings, in practice, it means absolutely nothing at all. Used for houses with bathrooms sporting fixtures from Home Depot’s “Best of the 80s” collection, to a listing photo including someone’s clothes laid out on a bed next to an ironing board, to a bank-owned foreclosure with missing windows, “turnkey” is now officially meaningless.


To Sheri Winter Clarry of Corcoran, who sold Big E Farm after nearly four years on the market. The property, which includes Martha Clara Vineyard, sold in April for $15 million to a Mexican winemaking family. This represents the highest residential sale on the North Fork since 2008.

Even with a record price, we think the Rivero Larrea family who purchased got a great deal: 200 acres in Jamesport with a very attractive manor house, that includes a professional chef’s kitchen, commercial baking room, and a finished lower level with therapy/fitness pool, sauna, spa room, exercise room and wine cellar. There are 17 buildings in all, including 9 barns, a “wine club gallery,” events space, tasting room, “culinary education center” and three cottages. More than a hundred acres of the property are planted to vines. There are also numerous paddocks and a racetrack for thoroughbreds. Congrats to all!