Hamptons Confidential: Jane Gill

Photo by Richard Lewin

Welcome to our new feature in which we interview local personalities: agents, architects, interior designers, builders, anyone who plays a part in the world of Hamptons real estate. Want to get in on the fun? Drop us a line!

Jane Gill is a Saunders agent and a resident of Sagaponack for “forty years, off and on,” she says. “27 years full-time.” Growing up in Long Beach, she and her friends would sometimes hitchhike to Montauk to surf. Gill became an international fashion model and still dabbles at modeling. In her spare time, she works with raptors at the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center.

So your first career was as a model?

Jane’s first photoshoot for Vogue

My sister had a good friend, Joel Schumacher, who then went on to become a movie director. He used to work at Henri Bendel on 57th Street and he knew everybody in the fashion business. He said to my sister, “Oh, you should have Jane modeling. Let me introduce you to Diana Vreeland at Vogue.” I went up to see her, and she said, “Oh, DAHLING, you have got to do something with that hair!”

So they photographed me and I had a couple pages in Vogue when I was 16. I didn’t know what I was doing but that’s how it started. And then from there it just catapulted into you know working for all the magazines at Conde Nast, Glamour, Town & Country, Seventeen and all the Vogues around the world and so on. So that was that in the late 60s.

I just kept working a lot because jobs just kept coming in. I went up on this audition. It’s a Friday afternoon, and I wanted to go with my sister to the Berkshires. So, I waited and waited and waited and waited. Finally, I decided to leave and was walking out the door. Someone grabbed me by the arm and said you can’t leave. It was Dick Avedon. He said, “I want to use you for this ad.” It was my first ad.

And then I met Bruce Weber in the mid-70s and we were working in Italy. Back then, working in Italy, they just paid you in cash–you would have just wads of cash. Bruce told me to go to Paris and just spend all your money at the Crillon. So I did. That was my introduction to Paris.

Bruce started to get into fashion and then all we did all these pictures. And then Ralph Lauren said, “Oh, I want you to do a campaign for me! I’m just starting it tomorrow.” We did a big campaign that ran like twelve pages in the New York Times Magazine. And I modeled for Ralph Lauren for a long, long time, till like 1990.

Those friendships were really like family and a lot of those people I still see and feel like family.

A Ralph Lauren ad by Bruce Weber

So, after all that, you eventually decided to become a real estate agent like everybody else.

I started out with a small location business. I knew all these great locations we used to shoot at all the time. So I started taking pictures of them and started this little location business. I had a baby in 1995, and I didn’t really want to have a full time job, so I had this business. And I knew all the areas and eventually got my license.

It’s more complicated than that, really. My old neighbor wanted to sell his house in Sagaponack, and I found a broker. The broker sold the house. Then I said, “Were you going to give me part of the commission?” She said, “Oh no I couldn’t do that. You don’t have a license!” I had just given her a million dollar listing! Quite a lot in 1995. Finally, the homeowner wrote me a check. So I went and I got my license.

Photo by Mike Reinhardt for Vogue

How did you get into working with rescued animals?

I’ve always rescued animals: a butterfly or a crab or a squirrel or a baby bird. My parents welcomed me bringing home animals. It was just part of my life to bring them home and rescue them.

Later on, when I was out here, we brought a turtle into the rescue center and I said I’d love to get involved. Then I started to really focus on the raptors and the birds of prey.

Today I spend a lot of time teaching kids what lives out in their backyard, how to coexist with wildlife, things they’re not learning in school. I’m also trying to incorporate environmental stuff.

For example, we have a bird that comes in to the hospital like a hawk and it’s poisoned. The reason it’s poisoned is because somebody has put down poison. People are trying to get rid of the mice and the rats on their properties. The mouse eats the poison and the raptor eats the mouse. They both die. I’m trying to educate people and learn as much as I can to try to help people talk to their landscapers. Go for more natural, organic fertilizers and pesticides.

I think if I can give back to the community like that, helping people like people helped me get educated –I’m feel like I’m doing something good.