Behind The Hedges 23.09.2020 11:44 Hamptons Open Houses to Check Out This Weekend

News & Features

Hamptons Open Houses to Check Out This Weekend
September 18, 2020
Open houses are a great way to find your next home, see inside a house that you have always been curious about, or just get design ideas. [caption id="attachment_74116" align="aligncenter" width="600"] 33 Herb Court, Sagaponack, Photo: Courtesy Saunders[/caption] 33 Herb Court, Sagaponack Open house: 9/19, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; 9/20, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Price: $7.995 million Beds: 5 Baths: 5 full/3 half Size: 5,283 square feet/1 acre Features: Located near Town Line Beach, this pond-front home offers a light-filled, two-story great room with dazzling views through a wall of windows and glass doors; a three-season screened and glassed-in porch with fireplace; seven wood-burning fireplaces throughout the house, plus an outdoor fire ring in the garden. The property is recently updated with a new bluestone patio facing the pond and numerous bluestone pathways, all added in late 2019. [caption id="attachment_74117" align="aligncenter" width="600"] 43 North Main Street, East Hampton, Photo: Courtesy Town & Country Real Estate[/caption] 43 North Main Street, East Hampton Open house: 9/19, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; 9/20, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Price: $3.75 million Beds: 5 Baths: 4 full/1 half Size: 3,600 square feet Features: This home has a newly renovated, historic two-story barn, with a gym, oak-paneled library and loft space, with radiant floor heating, a heated gunite pool and includes a small separate cottage for use as a studio. [caption id="attachment_74120" align="aligncenter" width="600"] 2 Oakwood Court, Wainscott, Photo: Courtesy Douglas Elliman Real Estate[/caption] 2 Oakwood Court, Wainscott Open house: 9/19, 1-2:30 p.m. Price: $6.895 million Beds: 6 Baths: 7 full/2 half Size: 8,000 square feet Features: This villa features unique European design elements combined with modern indoor and outdoor living. It also features a T-shaped beach-entry oversized swimming pool and a spa with built-in water feature and swim-up bar. There is also an outdoor living area with fireplace, cabana, outdoor shower and half bathroom.
Always Be Closing: 240 Wyandanch Lane, Southampton
September 17, 2020
A rare and significant property has closed in Southampton for nearly $10 million. Located at 240 Wyandanch Lane, the house was on the market for the first time in 40 years. It's less than 400 feet from Wyandanch Beach and features beautiful views from nearly every room in the existing 5,800+/-sf modern on 2+/-acres of manicured wide green lawn overlooking Old Town Pond. The lovely home was sold for $9.63 million. Sandra Liveric, Sotheby's International Realty Southampton Brokerage, was the listing agent. Molly Ferrer, Sotheby's International Realty Southampton Brokerage, represented the buyer. Check out photos of the stunning property below. [caption id="attachment_74108" align="aligncenter" width="750"] 240 Wyandanch Lane, Photo: Gavin Ziegler for Sotheby's International Realty[/caption] [caption id="attachment_74107" align="aligncenter" width="750"] 240 Wyandanch Lane, Photo: Gavin Ziegler for Sotheby's International Realty[/caption] [caption id="attachment_74105" align="aligncenter" width="750"] 240 Wyandanch Lane, Photo: Gavin Ziegler for Sotheby's International Realty[/caption] [caption id="attachment_74110" align="aligncenter" width="750"] 240 Wyandanch Lane, Photo: Gavin Ziegler for Sotheby's International Realty[/caption]
Real Estate Roundtable: Above and Beyond
September 16, 2020

Extreme weather, extravagant requests, extraordinary times...nothing gets in the way of true professionals going the extra mile, even after a property has been sold, for their clients. Gather 'round as our gathering of Hamptons and North Fork real estate insiders share stories about how they've made every effort, and then some, for their buyers and sellers on the East End.

I try to do a thorough analysis of the current value and the growth potential of the site--I leave no stone unturned. I recommend vendors to them, and my relationship with them usually continues after the closing as there are always opportunities they should explore with commercial sites. --Hal Zwick, Town & Country Real Estate

Years ago, I had a customer who had been struggling to come out to see a property that just came to market and had gotten into a bidding war and they had not seen it. He was traveling abroad and returning home when a major snowstorm hit the New York area. I arranged for a car service to drive them out in an SUV with four-wheel drive, and they arrived in the dark in the middle of what was turning into a blizzard. The viewed the property, won the bid the next day and we closed. Still friends with them today. --Tim Davis, The Corcoran Group

We go above and beyond with every client in every way, for every sale, every time. Anything less is simply unacceptable. But we'll leave it to our clients to brag about the things we've done. We're just clear that it is always our pleasure. --Keith Green & Ann Ciardullo, Sotheby's International Realty

In my 36 years I have seen agents go above and beyond many times. Now add these extraordinary times and I must commend all our real estate professionals. I see agents working tirelessly, seven days per week, from morning through the evening. Like many other of my colleagues, I have had listings repainted, repaired, landscape clean-up and staged with new linens/towels/sisal area rugs and much more. That is a delicate task, as you want to help the sellers maximize their investment potential yet not criticize how they lived before you redecorate.

We've sent all means of transportation to pick up clients and deliver them back after touring and lunch. I tend to friend for life, so many of my clients become friends whom we boat with, dine with, socialize with more. It speaks volumes in our business when 30 years later customers who purchased from us seek us out to represent them when they're ready to sell. That's a feel-good real estate moment. --Judi Desiderio, Town & Country Real Estate

My team and I have become the Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau for all of our clients. This is before, during and after a deal is done. They all know to call me if they need a recommendation for contractor, restaurant or any other service provider. I do have one client who expressed an interest in fishing. I set him up with a few lures so he could explore on his own and then took him out twice on the boat. I am looking forward to getting him out more often in the future. Earlier this season, I took waterfront buyers out on my downeaster to view properties from the water. This was a much better way to show them the area and add to their North Fork experience. --Thomas McCloskey, Douglas Elliman Real Estate

For one house that my buyers purchased, I had to send my brother's work crew over to help with landscaping and lawn maintenance when the guys that cut their grass didn't show up for two weeks. The buyers were extremely grateful to have someone that they could trust come through for them, even though on paper my job was complete after the house was sold. For another house that I sold in Southampton Village, I helped my buyers find a reliable and reputable contractor that could help with their renovation needs. --J.B. Andreassi, Nest Seekers International

We've gone as far as power-washing the deck and patio to make the sale for one client, as well as emptying out a garage filled with 50 years of clutter for another. --Tim Morabito & Nicole Weiss, Compass Real Estate

The Hamptons are known to have tenants who are used to the highest end of service. One home had a golf green. The tenant wanted the sand in the sand trap to be replaced with the same sand that they had at their golf club. Need I say more? --Alan Schnurman, Saunders & Associates

Netflix's 'Million Dollar Beach House:' Meet Michael Fulfree of Nest Seekers International
September 15, 2020
The alluring world of luxury real estate comes with its own set of drama, both corporate and personal, and Netflix is about to capitalize on it. Its new show, Million Dollar Beach House follows five Nest Seekers International brokers out for success in the Hamptons real estate market as they navigate high-stakes business while keeping up with their families and loved ones and dealing with interpersonal conflict with each other. Million Dollar Beach House is streaming exclusively on Netflix. Get ready to meet the brokers! Michael Fulfree Former model and office sweetheart, Michael has been with Nest Seekers for the past year and just brought on his best friend JB as a new realtor. Michael's wife is pregnant and due any moment which adds to the stress of his already stressful realtor life. What was it like filming the show while you and your wife were having a baby? I mean, it was definitely interesting! Luckily with everything going on, a culmination of all things, it allowed me to go through the process a little quicker. So like, the last month, having the baby, it was very stressful, and it was coming to the point where we were close, and the show and everything business-wise was a great distraction. The three months of filming made the process go a little bit quicker. IT was like a baby just appeared! It was a few months of complete madness. This show was such a roller coaster and such a crazy experience. What was it like doing major business while filming? Of course, as real estate agents, doing business while being filmed and something being internationally shown you want to be careful. So when you talk to your client it could be a little unorthodox because everything you say could be held a little more than a private conversation. A lot of things were being conducted through text when I was filming but of course, negotiating deals were getting done. Literally, I closed a deal for $1.5 million while I was on the phone just while we're filming in the office. It's naturally what happens when you're working. I'm very comfortable on camera. Those kinds of things didn't really bother me too much. It was watching my mouth and being a good boy. How did your relationships with the other brokers affect your time on the show, both positively and negatively? Myself and Jamie are best friends since we're 15 years old. We're like brothers. I have his back, he has my back, we just trust each other. With the business we're in, it's important to have people you can trust. I would include Jimmy in that circle completely. It's me, Jimmy and JB who are close buddies. We go out together, get haircuts, go out to dinner. It's our little crew. Noel and Peggy are newer. Peggy was in New York City. She's a hard worker. There are some touchy situations with Noel, who is very unorthodox and a very different kind of guy than I'm used to. My relationship with him is a little more distant. I surround myself with people that are willing to open up and be kind of human. What was it like dealing with clients who may not have been used to being filmed? That was a little bit of a struggle because of course, when you're filming an international show, it's going to be converted into many different languages. Every person you're dealing with is sophisticated and wealthy and smart so they're analytical. So they thought, "who knows how they're going to perceive me on camera?" What we feature on the show is over $5 million. They're very careful about their reputations. One of the questions was, is this show going to be a joke or really a serious show? Everything we did is authentic and real, from the drama to the transactions and that's what I'm really proud of. Talk about the show's mix of business and drama. So unfortunately in the Hamptons, because you're not dealing with small transactions, you're dealing with massive amounts of money, you get the worst out of people. In the high luxury market there's always going to be a little bit of drama, in negotiation of a deal, not having a meeting of minds, not agreeing. What I can tell you is, when we first started filming, we were going a different route. It's more focused on just real estate. As soon as we started filming season one all the personalities started coming out. It evolved into a show delving deeper into our personal lives. We are all completely different and that's what makes us special. There's an incredible, authentic dynamic. What are the challenges associated with selling luxury properties in the Hamptons? When you're selling these properties, you have just a certain percentage of our country and in the world that can buy these properties. So the biggest hurdle is you're down to 5-8% of America. You have a smaller customer base that you have to make sure you engage. What we're noticing is a huge shift in buyers. We're seeing a lot of Manhattan buyers that are a little bit younger. To appeal to that audience, everything is shifting from that brick-and-mortar and paper editorial to Instagram, social media, to push listings. Ultra-luxe clients are all over social media. Even the kids of the ultra-wealthy are looking at houses on Instagram. It's all about robust marketing and how you get yourself out there.  What is the greatest lesson you've learned as a Hamptons real estate broker? Don't get excited about an offer and acceptance! That's the biggest thing I've learned--don't count your eggs before they're hatched. It's anticipating the worst until it goes well. It's extremely high-stakes. What I learned is to not get excited until the check's in your hands. That one commission could be someone's yearly salary and more so when you think about that all the time, remember until it's your hands it's not real.  What aspects of this market do you think viewers from elsewhere will find particularly surprising? The brashness. People are expecting a very soft, delicate real estate posh show. The show gets a little edgy. Everyone has a perception of the Hamptons not being tough. But we're from Long Island. We're tough. They're going to be surprised. It's not like Selling Sunset, where they're dressed like they're going to the prom. We had nobody telling us we had to wear an Armani suit every day. People are going to be surprised about how unstaged we are. How do you build trust with buyers and sellers? So, the biggest thing is transparency. I'm extremely honest with my clients. I'm closing in two months on a deal. We spent a year and three months looking at houses every weekend. I showed them over 300 homes. Spending that time with the buyer and also showing that I never gave up, was always interested and ready and never thought they weren't going to buy, I was able to set myself apart, and they knew they could trust me because there were many times where they were ready to pull the trigger and I said this property's not right for you. As a broker in such an exclusive market, what do you think makes the Hamptons so special? And what makes you the perfect broker to work here? I have a Netflix show! I'm a young, hungry, tech-savvy real estate agent that can be out here, work really hard and this is now a global platform. This is dropping in hundreds of countries. This'll change a lot of things for me. When I say I'm going to do something I do it. Discuss what impact you think being on this show will have on your business and the way potential clients will perceive you. It's going to be pretty crazy. To be honest, there's going to be people excited to call me. But I also think people are going to watch the show and say, "that's who I want to work with." I hope it comes across as well as I think it does. It's already been ridiculous. There's an allure to having a show where you're going to build a larger client base, which is fantastic.  What are you most looking forward to viewers seeing on Million Dollar Beach House? To be honest, I think it's the evolution of how I go from being nervous to being a dad to finally having the baby and being able to transition back into work. That was kind of the biggest thing.
Master Craftsman: Doug Russell, Founder and Owner, Lighting Workshop
September 11, 2020

Here's a little thought experiment. Think about the last time you were at a restaurant for a lovely dinner. Now think about the ambience. Was the lighting harsh? Was it beating down on you? Maybe it was really hot. But, what if the last time you were at a restaurant, the lighting was really soft and lovely and non-intrusive? Would you even notice?

[caption id="attachment_74091" align="aligncenter" width="482"] Doug Russell, Photo: Courtesy Lighting Workshop[/caption]

North Sea resident Doug Russell, founder and owner of the Brooklyn-based Lighting Workshop, thought about that over 15 years ago before his company was formed. Russell, who originally worked for a large lighting company designing fixtures, was drawn to the idea of lighting not as a product, but as an element of the space. "I found that I was way more interested in what those things did in a space than the things themselves," says Russell. "I saw these other lighting designers using these lighting fixtures to really create these layer-rich compositions of light and space. I found that so much more powerful than looking at something as an object of decor--a chandelier, a sconce. What they did with it to transform a space and I started thinking about how you go into a restaurant that's really well-lighted and don't think about, but when it's bad you are aware of it."

Russell then got his graduate degree in architectural lighting design. "We are collaborators of architects, interior designers, end-users," says Russell. Architectural lighting designers work to make sure the light complements the space and enhances it. "Light is fundamental in how you perceive materials in space and the shape, the mass, the volumes...Sometimes when you don't get the lighting right, the client can't even describe what's wrong, there's just something missing in that built-in environment," explains Russell.

That's where Lighting Workshop comes in. "There's a discovery phase with every project, which is a lot of fact-finding," he says. "What are the tasks that are going to be performed there? What are the materials? Are there textures that are going to be rendered? And then you create a narrative. You create a story of light in space. Do you want it to move people in a certain direction? You go through that, then try to establish goals with the client."

Lighting Workshop has 19 designers on staff, from a variety of backgrounds including architectural lighting design, interior design and the theater. "We try to use that diverse experience to bring different qualities of life to different kinds of spaces," says Russell. "We have a big portfolio of creative workspaces and creative firms. Those spaces are not designed to function like law firms. The people there would be way more comfortable working in a Starbucks than they would a traditional office. So we try to take things we've learned through hospitality design and weave that into the workplace. Now people are working at home, so it's about creating spaces where people can work well. We spend a lot of time during the day concepting, a lot of meetings and then a lot of time on job sites during construction, focusing light, setting up dimming systems and making sure the end result is what we were hoping for and designing to. It probably doesn't look a lot different than what interior designers or architects do. Our services really parallel their services. We are really working as a second set of eyes for them."

The group has also worked on a variety of Hamptons homes, and one theme persisted in each project. "In each one of the Hamptons homes we've done, you have interior spaces that flow into exterior spaces," explains Russell. "And one of the lighting themes we've brought to those projects is using lighting to extend rooms out onto the property. You're sitting in your glassed-in TV room, but there's a deck and the pool and layers of things outside. As you start to layer lighting from the inside out, that becomes the room. Those exterior functions become a part of that experience rather than 'I'm inside and I'm outside.'" Russell also notes that people out here "have more appreciation for more integrated AV and lighting controls. Having a robust lighting control system adds so much more utility to your lighting. Instead of it being this static thing you can create different scenes that reflect time of day or mood or function."

For his own home, Russell is working on enhancing the beautiful land around his property. "I'm crawling up into trees, installing lights and I'm playing with different effects and practicing different compositions on my own property," he says. "I have a nice, wooded acre around here with a lot of different kinds of vegetation, so it's been a lot of fun." Russell notes that he sees a lot of up-lighting with trees, which doesn't look natural. "That's not the way light exists in the real world. Mixing in mood lighting high up trees, seeing some light dappling through trees, not just doing a lot of one thing."

So as you look at the lighting in your own space, be it home or work, think about what works and what doesn't and how it makes you feel. That is what Russell and Lighting Workshop strive to do. "Lighting adds so much value, even emotionally, to a space."

Michael Snell
At Home with Michael Snell
September 10, 2020
Those who criticize millennials for a lack of ambition or work ethic might want to meet Michael Snell. The East Hamptonite, founder of The MJS Groupe, has spent twelve years in the luxury-marketing field. He is passionate about his work. "I think I work 22 out of the 24 hours of the day, continuing to keep all of my projects, clients and connections," he says. Snell's extensive career in the luxury brand and consumer space started at Bloomingdale's Inc. corporate offices. He later went on to manage the Customer Experience Program at Tesla Motors. There, he was promoted onto the marketing team, where he launched Model X, Model 3, Powerwall, Gigafactory and Solar Roof while overseeing the global visibility campaign structure as a direct report to Elon Musk on his management team. Following his time at Tesla he moved to BMW Group of North America to join the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars North America team. Following his time as Marketing Manager for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Snell founded his company. [caption id="attachment_74085" align="alignright" width="240"]Michael Snell, Photo: Courtesy Snell Photo: Courtesy Michael Snell[/caption] Tell us a little about your company. The MJS Groupe was formed a little over three years ago, stemming from a personal need to invest a deeper creative stamp and the idea of redesigning the approach of traditional marketing and press principals in the luxury space. The idea was to harness the most out-of-the-box millennial minds that are driving the creative intuition and use that to drive our projects. Being a millennial myself, I felt that it was important to create alongside a generation of my peers who are also able to interpret the global and economical climate as it would relate to a client's visibility strategy. While MJS Groupe grew up alongside some of the largest firms in the business, I really wanted it to be fun, fresh and an exciting place to both work and also create! Designing a full-service firm was no small feat. We work with inspired companies, global influencers, and power-brands specifically catering to high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth consumers to design all core strategic engagements to deliver results while seamlessly integrate bespoke, one-of-a-kind tailored experiences from concept strategy marketing, to branding, press integration, and platform design of every company within the portfolio. I wanted The MJS Groupe to truly foster the engagement of each designed campaign we create always driving back each valuable consumer action. We make sure that whether you're just starting out or you're evolving your brand, our goal is to help to curate every impression you make. You recently received some prestigious awards. We have recently been honored with two prestigious awards for our work over the last year. Both extremely important parts of the marketing and press worlds. Announced as part of the early recipient winners for the 14th Annual Hermes Creative Awards presented by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals, The MJS Groupe received the top 'Platinum Award' achievement under the Public Relations, Communications & Strategic Programs category. This was for our work on a project titled "Honoring the Icon - Quincy Jones." Additionally, for the same project, "Honoring the Icon - Quincy Jones." The Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts announced at the 26th Annual Communicator Awards. Talk about your life on the East End. In a word--relaxed. Going between both NYC and East Hampton and now, having spent time here since February, I'm not sure how everyone else can live. The same amount of work can be achieved, with the same amount of people and time--I think it truly took everyone reevaluating their daily priorities how they would rather spend their time. And mine is out here where I can live and work with the beach air in my face and sill be in the vicinity to world class shopping and Michelin-star dining. What's better than that? [caption id="attachment_74086" align="alignright" width="200"]Michael Snell Photo: Courtesy Michael Snell[/caption] How would you describe your home's style? Nothing but neutrals and clean vibes--tones of sands and beiges, with endless amounts of books, adornments to each tabletop and little curiosities found from travels or those collected on impulse. You'll definitely find a large amount of automotive paraphernalia throughout--that might even be an understatement. You won't have to look hard to see a grill from a classic Rolls-Royce or see the crystal statuettes from historical competitions--like the 1942 Concorso d'Eleganza at Villa d'Este. Admittedly, I enjoy iconic designer pieces, which you'll too find matched with curated and unique pieces of art throughout. The home is just an extension of one's ability of expression, never limited to just fashion I've always felt that you can also live in any style that you sport. How has the meaning of "home" changed for you, following the COVID-19 quarantine? Have the past few months changed your perspective? As an individual, the past few months for me were quite reflective. I have always been an extremely self-sufficient individual, and most who know me have always said that if anyone could survive a quarantine it would have been Michael! While the meaning of home for most have us would have normally referred to our place of family, comfort and rest, now for me it's also a place of work, retreat, sanctuary, family and definitely has now adapted into more of my hub of everything. I'm an extremely flexible person, great with change--so again, for me, this was easy. For those who need consistency and cannot find the ability to make a regimented work-from-home routine for themselves work, I can't imagine the torture! What are a few of your favorite places to visit on the East End?  My favorite beach is Georgica Beach, as its usually less crowded and offers the most exquisite sunsets, however Main beach is a close second--only after 6 p.m.--as that is when I can bring my two nieces, who happen to be yellow labs, with me for a good run through the sand and surf. You will most likely catch me at Lulu's in Sag Harbor, Harbor Bistro or Dopo la Spiaggia. But if I'm craving seafood, I'll be hidden at Duryea's or taking-out Bostwick's. It's no secret that I spend more time in a daydreaming about dinner and snacks then I do anything else, and most friends would agree, especially Kyle and team at Grindstone Doughnuts. Shopping...well, I'm pretty selective and for me its great because there is a sprinkling of each of my favorites like the larger Loro Pianas and Brunello Cucinellis down to the boutique brands in each town. One of the most exciting things I've seen to come about is that more and more pop-ups have taken over and keep our area interesting and changing. An investment in this area is crucial from a business, marketing and tourism perspective.
The Artist's Residence: A History of the Elaine De Kooning House
September 09, 2020

"Women can also be creative in total isolation. I know excellent women artists who do original work without any response to speak of. Maybe they are used to lack of feedback. Maybe they are tougher." --Elaine De Kooning

The sun spills generously into the wide, open studio on Alewive Brook Road, East Hampton. A painter, sprawled on the floor, deep in thought about the next color they're going to use, grabs a brush and, with a broad stroke, begins their next masterwork.

[caption id="attachment_74080" align="aligncenter" width="600"] The sunlit studio at the Elaine De Kooning House, Photo: Barbara Lassen[/caption]

Such is the way of life at the Elaine De Kooning House. The late, great artist, known for her portraits of John F. Kennedy, Pele, Allen Ginsberg and many others, purchased the house in 1975 and added the stunning studio, with its huge windows and massive, open layout. De Kooning spent the last years of her life in the house before her death on February 1, 1989. After her death, the house went through several owners, including sculptor John Chamberlain and painter Richmond Burton, before being purchased by Chris Byrne to be used as an artist residency.

Director of Programming Katherine McMahon has been with the Elaine De Kooning House since 2018. An artist herself, McMahon was immediately taken by the unique design of the house. "It's such a magical house," says McMahon. "You can feel there's a spirit to it. Coming from the hustle and bustle of New York City, it's a different kind of vibe. You hear acorns falling and think there's a ghost in the house or something! It's wonderful."

McMahon lives in the house full-time and facilitates artist residencies, and holds events (though recent times have put those on pause). To live in the house that De Kooning called home is a unique experience. "The house has a delicate balance," she says. "It feels almost like a church, but also, lived in. It strikes a nice balance. I like the fact that it's being used--that the studio is not going to waste."

[caption id="attachment_74081" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Elaine De Kooning in studio with her nephew, Christopher Luyckx, Photo: Gerald McCarthy[/caption]

Some artists that have had residencies in the house include Eric Haze, who stayed longer than expected earlier in 2020 due to the lockdown, and currently Joe Bradley, who is preparing an exhibition that will be held in Zurich, Switzerland from the East Hampton studio. McMahon says of the program, "It's a sort of informal vibe compared to other residency programs. It's such a gift because I get to learn from these artists who get to learn, too. I'm grateful for the experience because I get to meet these wonderful artists. Every time, it's a little bit different."

While the house has been renovated and changed over the years, many elements of De Kooning's original vision remain--and not just as artifacts, but as elements that are still used today. The wooden, paint-smattered kitchen table was used by De Kooning in the studio space. A ladder in the studio is still functioning. And art, of course, is everywhere, from original pieces by De Kooning herself to works left by past artists-in-residence.

McMahon recently visited the LTV studios in Wainscott to look at archival footage of De Kooning in the house, and was struck by something. "It feels very similar," she observes. "The exact same spirit is still there. It's just really kind of wild to see how well-preserved it is."

De Kooning had happy times in the quiet isolation of Northwest Woods. For De Kooning, McMahon says, "it was this beautiful, peaceful oasis." And as for today? "It feels like you're in a different time. It's a dreamy place to be."

Netflix's 'Million Dollar Beach House:' Meet Peggy Zabakolas of Nest Seekers International
September 08, 2020
The alluring world of luxury real estate comes with its own set of drama, both corporate and personal, and Netflix is about to capitalize on it. Its new show, Million Dollar Beach House follows five Nest Seekers International brokers out for success in the Hamptons real estate market as they navigate high-stakes business while keeping up with their families and loved ones and dealing with interpersonal conflict with each other.
Million Dollar Beach House is streaming exclusively on Netflix. Get ready to meet the brokers!

Peggy Zabakolas Peggy, a 10-year broker veteran, just transferred to the Nest Seekers Hamptons office after working in NYC. She was tired of referring clients to other brokers in the Hamptons and thought she should take advantage of these listings herself. A tough negotiator (she's also a lawyer) with a huge rolodex of clients, she has friction with Noel and doesn't like the idea of back door conversations.

You have a background in NYC real estate. Tell us about the relationship between NYC and the Hamptons and why you decided to make the move out east. I've been doing real estate for almost 10 years at Nest Seekers. I started in the city--I was originally on Ryan Serhant's team. I grew up on Long Island, I'm from Commack originally, and a lot of my NYC clients have houses in the Hamptons and typically I'd refer them out to other agents in the Hamptons. Once I left Ryan's team I made my own team in the city and figured nest seekers was the only company that allowed their company to work in the city and Hamptons and figured I'd service them myself, so I expanded into the Hamptons.

What was it like doing major business while filming? Super hard! I'm definitely a micromanager and I like things done a specific way, and I want every client, whether it's $500,000 or $50 million, to feel like they're my No. 1 client. And having a NYC business is one thing but expanding to the Hamptons and having that is another full-time job and adding filming on top of that is another full-time job. Toward the end, I got the hang of it. It was very, very difficult and I'm hoping if there's a season two it'll be a lot easier. I was driving from the Hamptons to the city and the city to the Hamptons in one day!

How did your relationships with the other brokers affect your time on the show, both positively and negatively? Ultimately, because I had the city business, I think my main focus was just business and work because I am a a bit of a workaholic. I didn't have much "me time" in the Hamptons, I think the only me time I had was riding my horse. There's 30 minutes of six episodes, and I was being filmed for the entire summer, so you're not going to get the full story of what was going on. There was a lot of things that happened off camera. We've worked everything out off-camera. I went into this looking like this was my family for the next several months and we were going to clash, have differences, but at the end of the day we worked everything out. It's a professional industry so you don't want to make anyone look terrible.

What was it like dealing with clients who may not have been used to being filmed? Everyone did a great job. Obviously we would not put anyone in a situation who didn't want to be on camera. But you're still being yourself, you're not playing a role. It takes a second to forget that there's a camera in your face but everyone did great. 

Talk about the show's balance of business and personal drama. The boys, for the most part, were all friends before they started real estate. I don't know if we all would have been friends if not for the show but now I consider them close friends because we had an experience that no one else in the Hamptons can really experience.

What are the challenges associated with selling luxury properties in the Hamptons? I think on a higher scale there's more risk and more money to lose, whether you're representing the buyer or seller. Finding a buyer is a challenge, no matter what.

What is the greatest lesson you've learned as a Hamptons real estate broker? Working in the city and having all my experience in the city, it was a learning curve in the Hamptons because in the city I'm selling apartments. No one ever does inspections unless you're buying a brownstone or a townhouse. The biggest learning curve was you're now buying a house with plumbing, electrical, a pool, which is the owner's responsibility. That would be the biggest challenge, learning the ins and outs of that aspect. Ultimately, selling real estate, if you have the fundamentals, it's all there.

What aspects of this market do you think viewers from elsewhere will find particularly surprising? The price tag! You see these $30 million-plus homes that you're just like, "what? How is that worth 30 million?" If you buy in North Carolina or Texas it's a different ballgame.

How do you build trust with buyers and sellers? A lot of my clients are referred to me in the past and I think that is the best form of compliment. If a past client has liked you they refer you. I like to make every client I work with my priority, no matter their budget. I'm available to them all day, every day. I don't end it at the transaction. I pick up on things they're interested in. The other day, an owner of a new listing I had saw these show coverings I had and I bought her a pair. Little things like that. I try to make connections. I think they trust my background. I do have a law background. I try to relate to them as much as I can and try to be a full service broker. I've gone to clients' christenings, weddings, first birthdays, years after we've closed a deal.

As a broker in such an exclusive market, what do you think makes the Hamptons so special? You're just an hour outside one of the best cities in the world and when you're in the Hamptons you think you're in a little oasis. It's no more of the hustle and bustle. You get the beaches, the good food. It's very private in the sense that you could be sitting next to a celebrity and no one really cares. It's the norm. Some areas are so chill. It's not like there's paparazzi everywhere. 

Discuss what impact to you think being on this show will have on your business and the way potential clients will perceive you. Hopefully it expands it! I hope that it promotes my business and I can use this as a platform to connect more people together, as well as other businesses. It's not just about real estate--interior designers, moving companies--to help clients out. The more I'm out there and the more connections I have it's better for my clients. I want to reach out internationally. 

What are you most looking forward to viewers seeing on Million Dollar Beach House? I'm most looking forward for viewers to see how it is to be a new agent coming from New York City into a whole different world. It's not as easy as everyone thinks. I've been doing really well in the city and I had to start not as on top of my game in the Hamptons. I don't have all the local connections as everyone else so it's interesting to see.

Hedges Index: Major Number 9
September 04, 2020

Now into September, summer 2020 is officially behind us, and what a summer it was. In this ninth month of the year, one's mind may begin to wonder about the significance of the number nine. The highest of all single digits, nine is unique in that the digits of any number that's been multiplied by nine will always add up to nine, no matter how large (e.g. 123 x 9 = 1,107 and 1 + 1 + 0 + 7 = 9). Nine is associated with the Major Arcana Tarot card known as the wisdom-seeking Hermit, a character many of us were able to relate to this summer. Now, we venture out into the world in search of the number nine across the Hamptons and North Fork.

East Hampton Town beaches in Montauk: 9

New York State parks on the East End: 9

Estimated population of East Marion: 954

Estimated percentage of Tuckahoe residents under 5 years old: 9.7%

Percentage of Water Mill and Montauk residents who worked from home in 2018: 9% (each)

Percentage of Southold Town households with a computer in 2018: 90.1% (highest on the East End)

Estimated number of households in East Hampton Town: 9,006

Total area of Springs and Mattituck: 9.2 square miles (each)

Median household income of East Hampton Village residents: $90,750

Listing price of a three-bedroom ranch house in a private Southampton community in 1978: $90,000

Year that The Old House, a national historic landmark, was built in Cutchogue: 1649

[caption id="attachment_74069" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Gardiners Island, Photo: Photo: Courtesy Doc Searls[/caption]

Year that pirate Captain William Kidd buried a portion of his treasure on Gardiners Island: 1699

[caption id="attachment_74070" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Billy Joel, Photo: Harel Rintzler/[/caption]

Year that Billy Joel released the song "The Downeaster Alexa," about a fisherman's journey through Montauk Sound: 1990

Year that Montauk-set movie Paper Man was released: 2009

[caption id="attachment_74071" align="aligncenter" width="600"] The Lobster Roll aka LUNCH, Photo: Oliver Peterson[/caption]

Year that Napeague restaurant The Lobster Roll AKA LUNCH made its last of many appearances on Showtime series The Affair: 2019

Business & Pleasure: Ann Ciardullo and Keith Green's Hamptons Life
September 03, 2020

It isn't hard to imagine them on a beach on the East End, each picking up smooth, flat stones, piling one upon the other in turn. One rock starts to slip, another helps right it. And so it builds and balances, calming and kinetic. There isn't a sign of any such Zen sculpture in the East Hampton backyard of celebrated Sotheby's brokers Ann Ciardullo and Keith Green, whose partnership in business and in life has led them to this place and moment, but there is a tranquility and unmistakable undercurrent of energy as they sit together, reflecting on the profound change that is all around us, pondering the question of what the future looks like out here.

Not so long ago, the very idea of future was a gray just-get-us-to-tomorrow turmoil as New York faced COVID's opening salvo in March. As those first weeks turned into the first months of spring, it became clear the Hamptons was becoming not merely a second home, not even just a primary residence, but a work center, a safe space, an oasis--and a place of uncertainty, especially for many who had left business spaces in the city. "I would say 75% of them felt it was not going to work, that they just couldn't do it," Ciardullo recalls. Partners at investment banks, attorneys, you name it. They all said the same thing: "I don't know how I'm going to do it. I need to be with my people."

Until, suddenly, they didn't. "Well, after about a month, I find them running on their lunch hour, or taking a bike ride or going to the beach for an hour," she continues. "And they say they don't want to go back to the city."

This, of course, in no way means Manhattan is being left behind today, or any time. "What they're planning is to sort of reverse things in their life," Ciardullo says. "They're never going to leave the city, but they're probably going to be spending more time out here. And I think the Hamptons will be their main residence--where they have their family, where they have holidays--and New York will be a place that they go to one or two days a week, maybe to the theater, because nobody is ever giving up the energy of New York."

For families, for business, there are unknowns, yes, but change is replacing uncertainty. It is not escape, but rather, evolution. "The Hamptons has, for at least a decade, been meandering on its journey to becoming a four-seasons community," Green observes. "Three decades ago, it was where people went for the summer. Two decades ago, they might have spent a few holidays. One decade ago, they were thinking of it as an involved part of their life. But it's been meandering. COVID didn't change direction, it simply accelerated where it was already going."

In an earlier life, Green spent some 30 years in the upper echelons of the nation's marketing community, and there is one truth that he carries with him to this day. "What we always understood was that products don't make markets, people make markets. And so what's happened here is that people's mindset has changed. We don't think anybody is abandoning New York for the Hamptons, but what people are going to find is a different balance. They're going to get their energy from the incredible power, as Ann said, of New York City. When I say power I don't mean just business but artistic and social and community--it's a source of power. It lights up the world. New York has, literally and figuratively, for centuries, lit up the world.

"But now what we're hearing people say is, I'm going to find a balance. I used to go to the Hamptons to relax, to restore, for the relative calm. Now they're going to be coming here to balance out that vibrant power of the metropolis and instead come here for the majesty of the sky, of the ocean, of the farms, of the tranquility. And balancing those things, finding that balance, for every family, for every individual, will be different. But everyone's going to be trying to find the balance that works for them.

"But here's the punchline," he adds after a storyteller's half-beat. "What's the greatest tool at their disposal to help them get that balance right? Real estate. What they choose to live in here, and what they choose to live in in the metropolis. Everyone says it's just time--'We'll spend four days here and three days there, five days here and two days there.' It's not time, it's real estate."

Finding balance is a journey. These brokers who have more than 40 years combined experience understand the guidance they can offer on such a quest can prove invaluable when it comes to price and location and amenities and such, but at its best it's more than that. It is something transformative instead of transactional.

"When you sell a house, it's not as if you never see these people again," Ciardullo says, her face revealing a hint of a surprise, as if anybody might actually think otherwise. "They become part of your life. Many of them have become a part of our family. They come to Thanksgiving. I'd say most of our new friends are new clients we've sold homes to."

[caption id="attachment_74065" align="aligncenter" width="600"] 105 Cove Hollow Road, East Hampton, Photo: Barbara Lassen[/caption]

They haven't just sold homes, of course. They've become invested in lives. Because that is their nature, to inquire and offer help and be genuinely interested in others. Because they have lives here, not just careers, themselves. The passion is tangible when Ciardullo speaks about her dedicated work with the Ellen Hermanson Foundation and helping community members battling cancer, when Green dives into a review of the natural wonders of the East End. When they talk about the happiness of family and how these times have presented challenges but also opportunity for reflection on true joys.

"My biggest joy is being with our grandchildren," Ciardullo says. "Being a grandmother is the most incredible thing ever! But second is my vegetable garden! I have tomatoes, zucchini, edamame, all kinds of herbs..."

Green laughs, his eyes widening in surprise and with genuine glee at her revelation. He ponders it for a moment.

"Nothing gives me more pleasure than waking up in the morning and wondering where she's gone, and looking out the window and she's there collecting tomatoes and cucumbers," he says. "Literally, the first hour of every day, she's out there. And you and I don't need to wonder about whether that's her form of mediation, because by definition it can't be about the tomatoes, because we could buy more tomatoes for $3 down the street at a farm stand that are bigger than hers and better than hers."

The energy and playful tone are suddenly subdued, Ciardullo looking his way with a good-natured wonder as to where he's going with this. "But the joy, and the peace and quiet of getting out of the real estate business that first hour every morning," he adds, his voice now softer, measured, balanced, "is something to see."

Ribbons Down My Back: A History of the Lyzon Hat Shop
September 02, 2020

It was around the early 1920s when a handful of expensive shops lined Main Street, many of which had additional locations in East Hampton or Palm Beach.

"Then they all went away," says Brenda Sinclair Berntson, the president of the Hampton Bays Historical & Preservation Society. "I would imagine the Stock Market Crash [of 1929] probably took people out."

In the early 1920s, an economic boom was happening in the town, with boutiques that also included Grande Maison de Blanc, a fine linen shop, Ovington's china and crystal store and Finchley's haberdashery. A train from New York City and lodging options like the Canoe Place Inn made Hampton Bays a desirable location for vacationers and second homeowners. It was a time when many judges and politicians would spend time in the area.

Located at 116 Main Street, the Lyzon structure dates back to the 1850s, when it first opened as a general store. It was originally named Camp King, because the King family owned a number of houses in the area.

"Walter King originally styled his hats from fabric left over from the general store," according to the Hampton Bays Historical Society. Between the time when the location was general store and when it became a hat shop, part of the store burned in a fire and it sat empty for a while.

"In 1911, [King] hired prominent builder and master craftsman Elmer Jackson to help him renovate the store into his vision for a millinery mecca," says the society. As King's creations grew in popularity, he wanted a renovation to match his beautiful creations.

Jackson was well known in Good Ground, the previous name of Hampton Bays. He was a Methodist, a baseball player, a member of the Bay Hampton Band, jury foreman and superintendent of the Canoe Place Chapel Sunday School. "Hardly a newspaper edition of the era goes by that does not have Mr. Jackson mentioned in some capacity or other," notes the society.

To update the shop, Jackson installed a sweeping staircase and many feet of dental molding. The upstairs boasts a unique barrel ceiling.

"The story goes, [King] went to Paris to buy material and on the ship over her saw the word Lyzon in the water," says Berntson on how the shop's name came about. On his way back to New York, he realized that the materials he bought were actually made in the United States. He swore he would only use local materials from then on, she says.

The shop became a place for one-of-a-kind hats by King. The wealthy and royal were among his customers, and King filled orders from Paris for his spectacular hats. He even designed a hat for Grace Kelly, the Princess of Monaco's wedding. Jackie Kennedy Onassis and her family were also customers.

Although exact dates are not known, Lyzon did most of its millinery business in the early '20s through the mid-'60s. The family also used the space as an art gallery at one point, says Berntson.

While many of the old shops are no longer in existence, the Lyzon Hat Shop, which is now the Lyzon Hat Museum, was restored by 2018, and is now run by the Hampton Bays Historical & Preservation Society.

In 2005, the Town of Southampton purchased land for relocation of Lyzon Hat Shop. The structure was donated by Anita and Bryan Whalen to the Hampton Bays Historical & Preservation Society and then turned over to the Town of Southampton for preservation, which was funded by the town's Community Preservation Fund.

One of the fundraisers the society hosts each year is the annual Derby Day fundraiser, which takes place in sync with the Kentucky Derby and guests are encouraged to don fanciful hats.

This year the Kentucky Derby was postponed until September 5. There won't be an on-premise celebration, but the historical society has created a party bag that contains everything supporters might need for their own horse race viewing party. Each bag serves two people and costs $25. Orders can be placed at or by calling 631-728-0887.

Netflix's 'Million Dollar Beach House:' Meet Jimmy Giugliano of Nest Seekers International
September 01, 2020
The alluring world of luxury real estate comes with its own set of drama, both corporate and personal, and Netflix is about to capitalize on it. Its new show, Million Dollar Beach House follows five Nest Seekers International brokers out for success in the Hamptons real estate market as they navigate high-stakes business while keeping up with their families and loved ones and dealing with interpersonal conflict with each other. Million Dollar Beach House is streaming exclusively on Netflix. Get ready to meet the brokers! Jimmy Giugliano Jimmy is a Nest Seekers lead who has been in the industry for more than 10 years. Jimmy has his hand in all the super luxe properties and acts as a mentor to the team, but when J.B. asks if he's ready to take on his own listings, Jimmy tells him he needs to keep learning, making J.B. question whether Nest Seekers is the right place for him to excel. As the broker on the show with the most time at Nest Seekers, how did you find yourself guiding and teaching the others? I focused on J.B. The other ones I helped when I could. They all have their own egos, of course, but I tried and helped them the best I could. You really need to build your rolodex. It's not one of those things where you just start making money right away. You need to learn the neighborhoods, all that kind of stuff, before you get your feet up and running. These people, when they make a lot of money and are buying expensive homes, they didn't make their money being stupid. They're very educated, very smart, intelligent clients. You have to be on top of your game. I try to instill in them, learn the information Everybody can regurgitate this stuff, it's not rocket science, but you have to put the time and effort into it so that when you do have the opportunity, you can close the deal. So, I always try to teach them to do all the prep work and learn the market. If you don't have that background you can't succeed. What was it like doing major business while filming? It was hectic, to say the least. The other guys had a little more time than I did. The producers were getting a little upset because I wasn't involved as much as they wanted to. J.B. worked for me but I also have seven other people who do, so I'm trying to juggle my team, my business, my clients, and my wife was pregnant as well. So I had my hands full, to say the least. How did your relationships with the other brokers affect your time on the show, both positively and negatively? I think the positive was that I enjoyed helping J.B. and the others. While you're helping them, you're reteaching yourself the market, you're really on top of your game because you're helping them with the inventory. But the negative is, it takes a lot of time out of your day to help people. Sometimes it ties you up, especially filming. I could have been making money but I was filming a scene for eight hours. What was it like dealing with clients who may not have been used to being filmed? I didn't have too many clients on the show, but the ones that did were very nervous. Some of the builders....were saying things out of the ordinary because they were nervous! So trying to juggle them and obviously when other agents were bringing clients to my houses, some of them were saying things and being a little over the top because the camera was on them so you have to manage their egos. This one gentleman was on a roll, trying to get every second of face-time he could. Talk about the show's balance of business and personal drama. Business is business. When you walk into the office, even if you have a problem with somebody, you just put your head to the grindstone and get the job done. I try to keep my hands clean of the gossip, but you can see some of the drama that played out with some of the younger brokers going after each other. It's a waste of time, it doesn't get you anywhere. But that's definitely a part of the Hamptons real estate world. What are some behind-the-scenes aspects of creating the show that viewers at home would never expect were going on? You definitely have to get used to the filming schedule, it's very demanding. When you sign up for this you know, but a five-minute scene could take hours. I wasn't expecting that much. I didn't know I'd have to give that much time, to be honest. What are the challenges associated with selling luxury properties in the Hamptons? Obviously, it's the wild wild west when you have so much money on the line. You have so much competition. There's like 2,500 agents selling, and maybe 250 or less make real money. It's very competitive and you have to set yourself apart, which I've been successful at. Last year, I was definitely in the top 20, maybe the top 10. This year, I'm having a record-breaking year, as well. It's hard to climb that ladder. The Tim Davises, they've been doing this for 40 years. When business comes to you instead of constantly chasing, my business would be two or three times larger. It gets bigger and bigger every year. You always have to look at the next step and what's in your future. What is the greatest lesson you've learned as a Hamptons real estate broker? Humility, I guess, and to be humble. I wanted to prove to the world I was worthy, but to be honest, it doesn't happen as quickly as you want it to. And even though I've been successful, if you look around at other agents under 35, there's nobody else doing what I'm doing. But for years I struggled. For my first two years, I struggled and worked 70 hours a week and made less than what I could have made at McDonald's if I got paid hourly. The third year, I broke through and doubled and tripled my business every year since. What aspects of this market do you think viewers from elsewhere will find particularly surprising? Some of the high-end stuff. For some people, it's hard to wrap your head around spending $40 million. In most of America you can buy a mansion for $1 million. It's an obscene amount of money! And if somebody is going to buy that, their net worth has to be hundreds of millions. That's what viewers are going to have the hardest time wrapping their heads around. How do you build trust with buyers and sellers? The best way to build trust is to prove you know what you're talking about. When you prove your knowledge and bring something besides opening the door. I always say, there's real estate agents and guys at the top. I know a lot about construction. You have to be well-rounded and be more than "oh, this is six bedrooms," and you see a lot of that. There's agents that don't know where they are half time and somehow they're still making money. As a broker in such an exclusive market, what do you think makes the Hamptons so special? What makes the Hamptons so special is all the little villages and the ocean beaches. Every village is different. Every little area has its own little touch to it. The Hamptons has a lot to offer to everybody. There's something for everyone. Who doesn't love the ocean and bay beaches? I'm a big boater. The waterways in Sag Harbor and Long Island Sound are some of the best. There is no other summer place like the Hamptons. Discuss what impact you think being on this show will have on your business and the way potential clients will perceive you. I think it'll be like gasoline on the fire, hopefully. You watch guys like Ryan Serhant, who was younger than I was when he started, but he started doing rentals and small sales. I already did the No. 1 and three biggest trades in the Hamptons last year. So I would think it would be gasoline on the fire. For the young brokers, it should get their careers started faster. I think it will help me grow a lot quicker. What are you most looking forward to viewers seeing on Million Dollar Beach House? The thing I hope people understand is that in the Hamptons, you get to enjoy the homes but it's a great financial play. We've outperformed the stock market. I hope they realize the investment aspect. Hopefully for Season Two I'll bring more to the table with my investment group. It's not only just buying a house, it's investments, it's everything. The resale, when people sell in ten years, they sometimes get 100% on their investment. Check out the trailer here! Watch Million Dollar Beach House exclusively on Netflix!