Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Building that summer home in the Hamptons?

A recently-built "cottage" overlooking Halsey Neck Pond,
viewed from the pavillion at Cooper's Beach
Many of our guests at A Butler's Manor love to wander through the estate districts and look at the mansions on their large manicured multi-acre lots. These "south of the highway" neighborhoods--south of Montauk Highway, a.k.a. ocean side--are definitely the dominion of the so-called 1%. And early spring is an especially good time to traverse the wide, tree-lined streets and gawp at what a few tens of millions of dollars can buy you, because the ubiquitous European privet hedges that enclose most of them are deciduous and are only now starting to bud out with leaves. Which means you can actually see some of these incredible, enormous summer homes.

Older Shingle-style "cottage," more traditional to Southampton area,
Cooper's Neck Lane
(Somehow I don't think the estate owners who ordered the hedging to be planted considered that for year round privacy, they'd be better served with the evergreen variety --the common name of which, I was amused to find out, is California privet.)

Assuming the economic slowdown of the last half-dozen years even affected the very wealthy, judging by the amount of construction underway on the oceanfront and some of our tonier streets, it is in their rear-view mirrors now.

I took a drive around town today and was interested to see that after years of "new traditional" shingle-style building (here's an example), it seems modern design  in the Hamptons is making a comeback. These necessarily are complete teardowns, and some of the ones I cruised by today were in full frenetic construction mode, presumably because their owners hope to enjoy this summer in the house.
This house, located just east of Cooper's Beach, is reportedly 1/10 of a mile long

Front view of new house under construction, Meadow Lane,
immediately west of Cooper's Beach



Same house, from beach. (Note all the workers.)
 Of course, housing design is part personal style and taste and part trend, and trends are often cyclical (can we say "platform shoes?"). There was quite a rash of modern houses built in the Hamptons in the 1960s and 1970s, especially in the south-of-the-highway Bridgehampton/Sagaponack area, as farmers sold off tracts of land, opening the area to what some feel was a period of unrestricted development. (The concept of unrestricted development was the primary reason tiny Sagaponack became an incorporated village.)
A beach house from the last "modern era?"
And truthfully, at a certain income level, you are able to build your house to more closely reflect your taste and personality. Calvin Klein tore down this bizarre, oceanfront castle

 to build this:

Calvin Klein's new digs
The state of oceanfront building in Southampton has hit some snags, as FEMA regulations following Hurricane Irene and Super Storm Sandy have imposed rules that new construction be raised on pilings, stilts, or other such forms. Net result: the mansions previously capped at 35 feet above the original grade in the flood zone now threaten to be much higher, thereby impeding the views of other homeowners in the area. The house being built on Meadow Lane, pictured above, will reportedly be 53 feet above grade upon completion. Or witness the imposing house in the photo below, currently under construction on the bay side of Meadow Lane. The land in the distance, on the other side of the water, is the Shinnecock Indian Reservation.

But I digress.

As you see, even though I've lived here twenty-three years, I too love to rubberneck in the estate district. I love the rolling green lawns that spread from the hedges to the houses, set far back on deep lots. I love the stately gates and long driveways. I love the specimen trees that dot the landscaping. And I love what I imagine the views from their windows must be.

Ah, to view the vast array of extreme residences and dream of winning the lotto, or discovering that you are distantly related to one of these billionaires and may figure in their will...

But until that happens, remember you always have a home in the Hamptons at A Butler's Manor!

Quote of the Day: If a man happens to find himself, he has a mansion which he can inhabit with dignity all the days of his life.---James A. Michener 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Unearthing a new Pollock painting?

A "new" Jackson Pollock orginal?
Artists have long been attracted to the East End of Long Island, often citing the unique quality of the light, and as long as there have been artists, there have been those who follow them. The hamlet of the Springs, part of East Hampton town, was the preferred venue for a number of artists who lived there and gained fame in the 1940s through the 1960s, among them Willem de Koonig, Lee Krasner, and Jackson Pollock

Pollock's "painting shoes" on display at the
Pollock/Krasner House in East Hampton
Sadly, Pollock died in 1956 while driving drunk on the winding wooded roads that are part of the Spring's charm. The Pollock/Krasner House and studio where he and his wife Lee Krasner lived and worked is now owned and maintained by Stony Brook University, which operates tours of the property during the summer or by appointment. Many of our visitors to the area seek out the tiny property, where the biggest lure is the floor of Pollock's studio, which looks like one of his iconic canvasses.

Recently, newspapers reported that a previously unknown work by Jackson Pollock has been unearthed in California. According to Mark Palmer of the John Webber Agency, representing the owners who wish to remain anonymous, it had been donated to a New York thrift shop, where it was picked up by a collector, then another collector, then finally the present owners, who live in San Diego. 

If the painting is real, it could be worth $160 million. 

If it is real.

I am certainly no Pollock expert--hardly even an aficianado. I'd agree it looks rather like his studio floor. In fact, one of the "proofs" cited as provenance says that the authors of the report traveled to Pollock's studio and laid the painting on the floor, matching up the paint spatters. Really? Surely that would presume that the painting was done very late in his career, since the floor--not being an intentional work of art--was certainly not cleaned in between projects. Yet the painting is presumably circa 1947, some nine years before Pollack's untimely death. Matching up squiggles seems like a stretch. Another "proof" cites the microscopic presence of birch leaves, which reportedly did exist on the property, which to my mind provides a better argument.  Analysis of paint spatters, colors, etc. are more precise and are presented as part of the proof of provenance


The jury, as they say, is still out.

On your next visit to the Hamptons, check out the Pollock/Krasner House and see what you think. More information on touring the The Pollack/Krasner property can be found here.

Me, I think I'd spend $160 million on a waterfront property first.

Quote of the Day: Contrary to general belief, an artist is never ahead of his time but most people are far behind theirs. ---Edgard Varese