On 20 March 2020 New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced a statewide stay-at-home order effective from 22 March. What followed was a mass exodus on the part of the wealthy, and the beginning of an on-going period of uncertainty for many New Yorkers. Coronavirus changed the way of life for many Manhattanites, but, rich or less well off, a vast number of them ended up flocking to the same place: The Hamptons.
A string of seaside communities on eastern Long Island’s South Fork, The Hamptons is known for long stretches of beach, hidden 18th-century-style estates and high-end restaurants and boutiques. Jackie Kennedy famously ‘summered’ there. Stella McCartney owns a $1.5 million house in Amagansett. Calvin Klein spent over $75 million building his own concrete and glass home in Southampton.
Now, according to reporting by Vanity Fair, driven by coronavirus fears, the summer vacationers are now extending their stay in The Hamptons, leading to exhaustion among local business owners and tensions between visitors and year-round residents.
“Nobody is fucking leaving,” an irate interviewee laments in the piece. With rentals still booming, landscaping businesses working around the clock and Manhattan’s out of work restaurant staff finding new employment among the Hamptons’ endless summer, has the seat of American wealth shifted back to the exclusive eastern beaches once and for all?
On the song New Slaves, from his seminal 2013 album Yeezus, Kanye West famously lamented the Hamptons as the seat of American power. “They prolly all in the Hamptons, Braggin’ ’bout what they made, Fuck you and your Hampton house,” he raps before going on to detail what he’d like to do with your “Hampton spouse”.
He has a point. You needn’t be au fait with American high society to be aware of The Hamptons as an (often vulgar) playground of money, beach houses, yachts, rose and linen shirts. Google ‘the Hamptons’ and the first three suggested questions are: “Which is the richest part of the Hamptons?”; “Which celebrities live in the Hamptons?”; and “Is the Hamptons expensive?” The answers, in case you’re interested, are: 1. Southampton Village, Water Mill, Bridgehampton, Sagaponack and East Hampton Village; 2. Everyone from Anthony Scaramucci and Jimmy Fallon to Beyonce and Jay Z; and 3. Very.
Today, the most expensive properties are located on ‘Billionaire’s Lane’. The late billionaire conservative donor David Koch had a $58.7 billion house here before his death in 2019. Healthcare mogul Vivek Garipalli paid $11 million for a home there in 2012 while Daniel Och, CEO of Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, paid $26.5 million for his four-acre home. One house, designed by architect Myron Goldfinger and featured in The Wolf Of Wall Street, sold for $29.5 million in 2014.
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