It could have been a scene out of Billions, the
Showtime series about a larger-than-life hedge fund villain,
Bobby Axelrod, who drew the ire of federal prosecutor Chuck
Rhodes after the mogul paid $63 million for a beach house in
The TV scene played out at Axelrods sprawling estate
on whats known as Billionaire Lane in
Southampton Village Long Islands largest hamlet
which Showtime rents from private investor Michael Loeb.
The financier has been known to charge $800 an hour, or
$275,000 a month, for the 18,000-square-foot mansion on a
nine-acre spread at 1610 Meadow Lane.
But instead of Axelrod decking a fellow hedgie for driving
drunk with his kids in tow, what happened in real life was far
uglier. On July 15, Loeb, 62, allegedly punched out a teenager
who was attending a $500- to $5,000-a-plate fundraiser at his
home, a barbeque cook-off with celebrity chefs like Jonathan
Waxman serving up ribs to benefit autistic children.
Avery Arjang, 18, had been invited to the event by
Loebs son, a childhood friend. He ended up with a broken
nose, a concussion, and surgery as a result of the pounding
that occurred when Loeb allegedly flew into a rage after one of
the teens Arjang had brought with him got drunk, threw up, and
soiled himself in Loebs garage.
The CEO of Loeb Enterprises was charged with misdemeanor
assault and pled not guilty. But the saga is far from over. The
Southampton police could upgrade the assault to a felony should
the damages prove to have long-lasting, serious repercussions,
says Arjangs attorney, Michael Griffin, who estimates
that damages could result in a $100,000 lawsuit against Loeb.
Neither Loeb nor his attorney returned calls for comment.
It was just another Saturday afternoon in the playground of
the rich, the fabulous, and the wanna-bes, where too much sun,
booze, and money often come with dire consequences. At
least once or twice a season, people become unhinged,
What is it about the Hamptons home to gorgeous
estates, pristine beaches, and quaint villages that
makes people go crazy? Is it the lack of cell service just
about everywhere? Every summer stories abound of drunk revelers
trashing houses, crashing cars, and getting into fights,
occasionally over property lines. Each year the population of
the Hamptons more than triples during the summer, to what is
now about a quarter of a million people, all on a slim stretch
of land less than 50 miles long. That strains everything from
septic tanks (the Hamptons has no sewer lines) to nerves.
As more people find their way here, the popularity of the
Hamptons and the money that comes along with it threaten to
destroy the qualities that make the place so special. Residents
fret about airplane noise, lack of parking, beach erosion,
water quality, and the rudeness of the interlopers. Some
longtime Hamptons locals believe that a tipping point has been
reached. East Hampton Star editor David Rattray, whose
family has owned the paper for three generations, is perhaps
the most vocal.
The region has reached a point at which growth should
actually be reversed, he wrote in an editorial earlier
this summer. The surge of summer residents is well beyond
what any rational planner would consider a sustainable level,
given all the constraints dictated by the landscape, lack of
sewage treatment, and limited roadways and emergency services,
to name but a few.
Alas, the Hamptons scene in the summer of 2017 showed little
sign of slowing down. Real estate was coming back, art was
selling, Airbnb was bringing in the riffraff, and restaurants
were catering to young Wall Streeters by trying (illegally) to
turn themselves into nightclubs. Never mind the bacteria in the
The storied end of the South Fork of Long Island known as
the Hamptons is a state of mind for New Yorkers. Its the
ultimate getaway from the steamy summer grit and grime of the
big city, a paradise where if youre wealthy enough
to own a ten-bedroom manse with tennis courts, a pool, and
staff you should finally be able to relax away from the
frenzied life on Wall Street. You can see the stars; walk on
wide, sandy beaches; and swim naked in your infinity pool.
Because its full of New Yorkers, of course, its
also a place to see and be seen for everyone from young
hedge fund managers looking to hook up in Montauk to bankers
hoping to cut deals to politicians raising money for their next
campaigns to socialites soaking the rich for worthy causes on
tented lawns in Southampton.
Theres too much money and too much ego,
says longtime Sag Harbor resident Mark Borghi, who runs an art
gallery, Mark Borghi Fine Art, in Bridgehampton.
Ive been coming out here for 30 years, and every
year it gets worse. Its exponential. Just going to
the neighborhood café to buy a cup of coffee can rile
him. People go in front of you in line because they feel
they are entitled, he grouses.
The modern fascination with the
Hamptons was largely spurred by bohemian artists, particularly
postWorld War II abstract expressionists like Jackson
Pollock, who lived in the woodsy working class hamlet of
Springs, adjoining East Hampton. Thats where he made his
famous drip paintings in a barn and became the greatest living
American painter of the era. In a classic case of Hamptons
excess, Pollock, at the age of 44, died in the summer of 1956
when he was driving drunk and his car spun out of control less
than a mile from his home and hit a tree, as he and two female
companions were en route to a party. Now the aging farmhouse he
and Lee Krasner, his wife, bought for $5,000 in 1945 is a
National Historic Landmark museum, including the barn. Visitors
must wear special foam shoes to walk on its paint-splattered
Fast-forward to the 21st century, and there are no bohemians
of any sort to be found. The Hamptons is dotted with
billionaire art collectors (hedge fund legend Steve Cohen once
paid $52 million for a Pollock), pricey art galleries, a couple
of museums, and an art fair though two other fairs were
shut down this year. Still, Borghi insists business has been
brisk this summer at his gallery, which sells small works by
the likes of abstract expressionists Willem DeKooning and Helen
Frankenthaler. Borghi says one man walked in off the street and
plopped down $375,000 for a painting this year, his biggest
sale of the summer.
Now when clients ask him if they should come to the
Hamptons, he jokes, I tell them, Theres
nothing to do. Dont waste your time.
One problem is that before you get to paradise, you have to
endure one big traffic jam. Whether youre driving a Honda
Civic or a Mercedes SUV, youve got to wait. On a recent
Friday night, there was a ribbon of cars as far as the eye
could see on Montauk Highway, the road that traverses the
Hamptons. More than 50,000 cars a day cross the highway at
Southampton in July, according to the New York Department of
Transportation. The growth happened pretty quickly, and
our infrastructure cant keep up, says Laura Tooman,
president of Concerned Citizens of Montauk, an environmental
Driving isnt the only way to get there, either. For
just $695 one way, billionaires can travel via helicopter from
midtown to either East Hampton or Southampton, a trip that
takes 35 minutes. About 70 aircraft fly into the East Hampton
airport daily. And for the plebeian day-trippers and weekend
revelers heading out to the honky-tonk that Montauk has become,
theres always the bus the Hampton Jitney
for $33 one way, or the slightly cheaper Long Island Rail Road,
which offers a $29.25 one-way peak-hour ticket.
No wonder the überwealthy stay ensconced
behind their hedges. I never leave my house once I get
here, says one hedge fund manager.
The crush of people has occurred despite the fact that the
Hamptons keeps getting more and more expensive, with more
people priced out of the market and a steady exodus of locals.
The previously sleepy hamlets of Montauk, once a
fishermans port, and Sag Harbor, a former whaling village
where writers have congregated for decades, have seen some of
the biggest booms in recent years, according to realtors.
Sothebys International Realty reports that during the
second quarter of 2017, Sag Harbor home prices jumped an
average of 21 percent, to $1.9 million.
Its true that Hamptons real estate took a dive after
the financial crisis, but prices recovered to peak around the
end of 2014. Sales in second-quarter 2017 were the best in two
years, according to Douglas Elliman, which reports that most of
the action continues to be at the very high end. The overall
average sales price in the Hamptons for that quarter was $2.5
million, with the average sales price jumping 28 percent. Sales
above $10 million doubled.
With the stock market riding high this year, some also see
the frothy market as a good time to sell. Goldman Sachs
co-chair J. Michael Evans owns the second-most-expensive
property on the market this summer. It is a multiple-home
spread, with two putting greens, two swimming pools, and tennis
courts on 16 acres in Southampton, with an asking price of $150
million. In mid- August another Southampton waterfront estate,
once owned by the Ford family, bested that price, listing for