If you are sixty-something, early in your life a millionaire was someone whose net worth was just over $1 million. In the 1970’s the goalpost moved and to still be considered a millionaire, you had to earn $1 million a year. In the 1980’s era of Wall Street greed/boom again the goalpost of being a millionaire moved to where your net worth had to be over $100 million. Then in the 1990’s the magic number was $500 million, early after the year 2000 the amount hit $1B and the classification was changed to “billionaire.” Amazingly enough today the phrase “billionaire” pertains to an individual who earns or net worth grows by over $1 billion or more per year. All this change in the last sixty-something years!
I have been visiting or living in the Hamptons for 50 years. When I was 16-17 years old I drove Jimmy Chiusano and Barnes McNevin (with my N.Y. State Jr. License) out to Southampton where we illegally pitched a tent on the ocean beach at the end of Meadow Lane. In the summer of 1969 law enforcement was not what it is today so we spent the weekend without incident. Meadow Lane then consisted of stately mansion-like homes, the kind of homes you could find in any posh Westchester neighborhood. Other than their optimum location (right on the ocean) the homes did not really blow us away to say, “OMG look at that.” The stately homes of Gin Lane, Ox Pasture and Cooper Lane in Southampton impressed us more back then with the hedgerow, and their classy nature but still, we would say, “Wow, rich people homes,” but again there were homes all over Westchester County that were visible and equally “rich people homes.”
Nowadays some things have changed and some things have remained the same. The beautiful Southampton homes in the village look almost the same as they did 50 years ago; with the hedgerow, the cobblestone driveways and the wonderful gardens and landscaping. However the homes on Meadow Lane, the re-development of that oceanfront has been astonishingly over the top. For example the home used in Showtime cable show Billionaires, for Bobby Axelrod, the main character, is a 2014-2015 new “nouveau riche style” Meadow Lane 12 bedroom over 17,000 sq. ft. monstrosity built on 7.5 acres of Atlantic Ocean beach land. It is also located on the precise spot where we pitched our tents in 1970. Now this very Southampton “Village House” is being dwarfed by homes, one being built that someone said to me looks either like a high school or Home Depot as the huge iron beams are still exposed. Looking at this development you can’t help but say, “vulgar money.”
Today as you drive down Meadow Lane you see all sorts of the latest of the newest construction vehicles along with huge cranes, and big time big wheel machinery on both sides of the road. No expenses are being spared to build these new homes costing $20 million to $80 million, homes being built on oceanfront land that the land itself is equally as costly. Yes Meadow Lane, Southampton is for billionaires only. It’s just a matter of time until armed private security openly polices Meadow Lane.
The same is happening in East Hampton Village on both the Lily Pond Lane, and the Further Lane oceanfront areas. It’s also become a billionaires only zone with home prices sold and bought for over $100M. The older wealthy families of the Hamptons are being financially left behind the new emerging billionaires.
It is what it is in the Hamptons, a changing of the guard, millionaires selling to billionaires who feel the need to teardown old classic estates and create a new class of 21st-century Hamptons billionaire summer homes. Huge money changes everything in the Hamptons.