Even in the Hamptons, a price tag of $75 million for a property still raises eyebrows, and, of course, hopes. Granted, the land, which belongs to Courtney Sale Ross, the widow of Steven Jay Ross, the Time Warner honcho, and founder with him of the Ross School in East Hampton, spreads out over 5.5 acres in that elite enclave off West End Road in East Hampton Village that might as well be called Billionaire’s Row. Yet it is not even on the ocean.
“It’s important to make a distinction between a trophy property and the rest of the market,” said John Gicking, senior vice president at Sotheby’s International Realty in East Hampton, the agency with the listing. Trophy properties, by which he means those affordable only to the global elite, “operate on their own supply and demand continuum.” In other words, there may be more ultra-high-net individuals than there are “important” estates.
Mr. Gicking went on to identify the addresses — from Eaton Square and Lake Geneva to Park and Fifth Avenues — required in the portfolios of what Chrystia Freeman, author of “Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else” called the “international class.”
Add to that list the Hamptons — beachfront only, please. Or, in the case of Ross’s property, pond-front. Not just any pond, however. We are talking about Georgica Pond, which is shared by such boldface names as Ron Perelman, Kelly Klein, and Ms. Ross’s next-door neighbor Steven Spielberg. The Ross compound boasts 460 feet of pond frontage with a dock and a 7,500-square-foot main house with a heated pool and terrace, according to the listing. Ed Petrie is the listing agent. There is also a separate three-bedroom guesthouse with barn and two vacant building lots. The main house has seven bedrooms and six baths.
But what about that pond front? Gary DePersia of Corcoran said that the current market is “on fire with a lot of deals happening.” Yet, he points out that a 3.5-acre property across the pond “has the best view on the pond and hasn’t gone yet” despite its price having been lowered to under $20 million.
Speaking of views, Mr. DePersia cited the sale of the 10.4-acre Southampton estate Old Trees to John Paulson, a hedge-funder, in 2008 for $41.3 million. Not only does he believe that that house is grander than the Ross house, but the property also sold with two pools, a tennis court, and views of both Lake Agawam and the ocean (though it doesn’t front on the beach either.)
“It’s the infrequent turnover of such coveted properties, many of which stay in families for generations” that gives the sellers an edge, according to Mr. Gicking. “When you’re reading about huge numbers you’re dealing with a very small subset of the market”: buyers to whom greenbacks are tantamount to Monopoly money.
Since the Ross property was listed at the end of March, it has been shown to overseas buyers, members of the financial world, and builders interested in taking advantage of the property’s two vacant lots, according to Mr. Gicking.
“A compound in and of itself is an interesting opportunity for a buyer,” said Mr. Gicking. Not to mention that it inhabits one of the more prestigious addresses in East Hampton. At $75 million for just over five acres, the sale would set a record.
But is the price right? “Everybody is testing to see how high to raise the bar,” said Ed Bulgin, a builder who constructed Ron Baron’s Further Lane house. Mr. Baron, you may recall, purchased Adelaide de Menil’s 40-acre property in 2007 for $103 million, the first nine-digit sale on the South Fork, and to date the largest real estate transaction to have taken place in these parts.
The last major closing to have occurred in the area was a 10,000-square-foot house on 6.5 ocean-view acres at 52 Further Lane in East Hampton sold by Sotheby’s for $62.5 million in March (most likely the house that The New York Times reported was purchased by SAC Capital Advisor’s Steven Cohen). It went in a matter of days.
How long the Ross property will take to sell, only time will tell. “Is there a precedent for this?” Mr. DePersia asked. “No. Will it happen? Anything is possible.”