Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Howard Gittis Double Whammy: Southampton

SELLER: Howard Gittis
LOCATION: Ox Pasture Road, Southampton, NY
PRICE: $59,000,000
SIZE: 15.4 acres, 15,000 square feet (approx.), 7 bedrooms, 8.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Settle down children. Go and lay down on your cushioned chesterfield, catch your breath and then take a few anxiety pills to settle your frazzled nerves. Your Mama knows that after viewing the soo-blime Palm Beach manse of recently deceased bizness man Howard Gittis, the children were expecting something faint worthy from his Southampton summer residence. But alas...

What we find instead is a very gracious, very large and very old school Southampton estate in a posh location with luxe but rather lackluster interiors and a spine tingling asking price of $59,000,000, a number only an metals magnate, strip mining industrialist or hedge fun honcho can appreciate or afford. Remember kids, this is a summer house in the Hamptons that is likely to be used only a few months of the year and 59 million smackers is a lot of damn money for a summer house.

Your Mama is non plussed by the interiors, but we will admit that the entrance hall is spectacular if a little more elegant than we would desire in a Hampton beach getaway, and overall, the house is a stunning piece of traditional architecture...it just needs a nice gay decorator to get up in there are spruce up the furniture up. Partick the dated and depressing dining room.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Mister Gittis scooped up the gorgeous and nicely proportioned Georgian style brick manor house on Ox Pasture Road for $8,000,000 back in January of 1994. He soon purchased the adjacent house on a 2 acre parcel for another $1,000,000 which was recently renovated and used as staff quarters. Now babies, let's discuss this for a moment. Your Mama would never, ever dream of having full time staff living in our house. Live in staff are just too damn nosy and Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter are way too private.

All you rich people with staff living up in your big houses are just fooling yourself if you think the they don't hear everything, see everything, and try on your good jewelry when you're not home. Your butlers, housekeepers and dusting gurls know far more about you and your family than you would ever want to admit. And they talk to each other. Don't think they don't, because they do. They vent to each other about your tantrums and they tell their friends about your eating disorders and they gossip far and wide about your husband's penchant for Chinese tranny hookers with blond hair. However, if we were to have full time staff, a second house on the property would definitely be the way to go. Think about it. If you've got the room and the zoning, it's the right thing to do. Mister Gittis had the right idea and a million clams is not so much for a supremely rich tycoon to pay for a little bit of privacy.

Anyhoo, listing information for the property shows the house measures a behemoth 15,000 square feet (approx.), with 7 bedrooms and 8.5 bathrooms and sits on an 15.4 acres. Property records reflect slightly different numbers, but Your Mama is not going to split hairs on this one...it's a huge damn house on an unusually large piece of land for this neck of the hoity toity Hamptons.

The estate, called Westerly, sits just a short chauffeur driven ride from the sugar sand beach at the bottom of Halsey Neck Lane. However this is clearly not the sort of house one would dare track in sand after a sunny and windswept day at the beach. At least not without incurring the silent wrath and deep resentment of the stern housekeeper Ingaborg, who spent the better part of her morning supervising and scolding poor Hildegarde and Gladis as they hand picked sand out of the custom sized sisal in the living room.

The extensively manicured grounds feature long views across acres of meticulously clipped lawns surrounded by mature trees, formal gardens, cutting gardens, quiet corners, a tennis court, what appears to be two swimming pools (one for the staff perhaps?), and several gated entrances with long gravel driveways leading to several garages and motor courts.

Everyone knows that real estate prices in the Hamptons follow their own insane logic, but even still, unloading a $59,000,000 estate that's not on the ocean won't likely be a quick sell. But then again, stranger things have happened, Wall Street bonuses are at a record high this year and there are plenty of people looking to park tens of millions of dollars into a market that remains untouched by rising oil prices, sagging stock prices and a lending industry looking more and more like it's headed for a free fall.

Whatever happens, Mister Gittis' Westerly will net his estate several if not many times his initial $9,000,000 investment. Good luck to his real estate agents. Be sure to let Your Mama know when this place sells and for how much!


Anonymous said...

I'll have to go through my book on Long Island country houses to find the provenance of this beauty; this is traditional Hamptons from the Golden Age.

The interior needs sprucing up. but what a property!

Gittis certainly had a flair for living well.

so_chic_darling said...

I do like the black and white entrance hall and the lovely Leger tapestry hanging over the stairs.
Somebody better tell Madonna about this one she could use it for a bedspread at Harperly Hall. .

Anonymous said...

Why so hostile, 4:01?

Mr. Gittis sure liked his Georgian revival architecture. I'm with So Chic on the entrance hall -- the slight curvature of the first few steps up to the ground floor is an especially nice touch.

Anonymous said...

I'll take the house, especially the front hall and the yard (if that is what one calls the acres of land surrounding the house). If someone could do something about the interior furnishings, that would be great.

I don't happen to have $59 million bucks though. Can anyone spot me the dough?

Anonymous said...

$59M is rather ambitious ... especially not being oceanfront ... That place in Bridgehamton for $75M[?] has bn on the market for years, the White House on the fringes of East Hampton has been on the market for years at $50M[?] ... I just don't think houses at this price sell that easily unless they're oceanfront or at least Georgica Pond front. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

It's lovely, and actually the "yard" is stunning. So why do I have the urge to run from room to room shouting RIIICCCOLLLLAAA! Just me?

Anonymous said...

One of the last true Georgian Revivals before it ALL stopped so abruptly. It's beautiful; can only imagine the magnificent character of the interiors. I wonder so many things. This property is just as stately as Palm Beach, but somehow lacks the spark and surprise. The highly-lofted furnishing are there, but do not serve as a backdrop for large-scale trademark art, which I suspect has long since been removed. I think much has been changed since September. Nice to have been able to see it. Thank you Mama.
P.S. I'd love to know what is growing in those gardens. So nice.

Anonymous said...

Not as fabulous as the Palm Beach manse but boy do I ever love that foyer. Black and white tile, curved stairwell, pendant style chandelier. All that's missing is a soap opera character being pitched off the second floor.

Anonymous said...

It's wonderful to see such a property so well preserved.

From the mid-1800s to WWII, Long Island was dotted with more than 6,000 of these lovely homes - sadly, most of them are gone and less than 600 remain, many of them vulgarly reduced to clubhouses for country clubs and gated communities.

Still, better than tearing them down outright, I guess.

Anonymous said...


Hell yes, it's prevserved and it's f^^king historically protected, you simple twit. Go back under your rock.

You're just plain insulting my intelligence.

Anonymous said...

curvature, did someone say curvature?

Anonymous said...

Alpha, you're obviously unacquainted with the flexible zoning in the area . . .

Anonymous said...

i say reduce them all to country clubs and/or clubhouses - they're like the stumps of Ozymandias

the last monumental vestiges of vulgar wealth built upon turning man into a machine.

Anonymous said...

Bark at the moon, uninformed one. Get a clue. Show us the facts as they pertain to this specific property. Thank you or please just shush.

Anonymous said...

This is your queue to frantically scramble for a shallow vestige of knowledge. My prediction is that you will again attempt to laugh off your ignorance.

Anonymous said...

Alpha, just what makes you think this is an historically significant property?

Stanford White's "Box Hill" is protected because he lived there, yet the firm's (McKim, Mead & White) crowning achievement, "Harbor Hill", stood for less than 45 years before being razed to put up tract homes and Roslyn High School.

I'm still searching for the provenance of this particular property; just what is it you know about it that you are so reluctant to share?

Oh and by the way, it's cue, not queue, twit.

Anonymous said...

I love it. It is practically perfect in every way, a rare thing to find in the US in my admittedly limited experience of the continent. To my mind, the only thing wrong with the dining room is that terrible tablecloth, which is on a par with the dreadful drapes I commented on in the Palm Beach house yesterday. White linen is the only the only acceptable covering, and that should only be laid before dinner. Leaving it on at any other time implies there is something not quite right with the table top itself. Textile errors aside, the rest of the house is well done. The entrance hall and staircase is exquisite. I may have to steal it.
The layout of the grounds is also unusually good.


Anonymous said...

Hear, hear, Flora!

Good taste always prevails.

Anonymous said...

anyone know when this house was built?

Anonymous said...

It appears to be the original John W. Kiser (married to Mary B. Pierce) estate, built in 1927, architectural firm unknown.

Anonymous said...

Pretty house...but only one thing has come to me...who in their right mind would want to have THAT mnay people over for dinner? As a former restaurant person, the thought gives me the willies. But, as always, thanks Mama.

Anonymous said...

This guy has the best driveways! I know that sounds odd, but I love gliding right up to the front door, sashaying into a grand entrance hall and scooping up a flute of bubbles before the house tour.

Strip it down, except for the beautiful floor in the foyer and this place is ready to summer in. Mama, would you prefer something a little more light and billowy? Hmm, I'm stuck in the middle but the old world charm tickles me.

I like Georgian lines. Boring but so pleasing.

Staff...in the house...living with us?? Separate quarters in the city and garages with second floors in the country. Without question.

LGB, I'm glad you're not letting Alpha bully you. He's a tool. You are funny, with a keen eye. My two cents.


Anonymous said...

Can't we all just get along?

I'm fairly new to the blog, but I notice that certain folks can get sort of brittle as they try to out-expert each other and clamber for the mantle of Authority.

A mantle that clearly belongs to Mama, anyhow.

That said, if Alpha is a tool, so is lil gay boy, right? I mean correcting cue versus queue in order to take the bicker in a new direction seems a tad small.

That said, the site is awesome and I find the commentary and engrossing addition to Mama's posts

Anonymous said...

You're right, aquaman, that was petty and mean of me but he was getting up my nose . . .

As Mama says, there are no haters allowed here.

Thanks for the reality check.

Anonymous said...

I'll take another double,on the rocks.

Anonymous said...

I'm new to this site. This is a beaut. Is there a most beautiful top ten (to date)for this site. There should be one updated as time progresses. I may have to go back to the begining of Mama's time.

Anonymous said...

By the way, bentley, thanks for the kind words, but aquaman was right - I shouldn't have stooped to that level.

That being said, it was fun!

Anonymous said...

Mama at 833 said it lacks sparkle and the b &w floors are just to euro for the Hamptons. It looks like a great home but I much more prefer a gambreil home to this. maybe I'm to young to appcriate a home like this, it needs to be more fun less old world.

Anonymous said...

oops gambrel

Anonymous said...

I know, I should take 10 deep breaths and let it go, but as a father of 5 I have trouble letting bullies bully. I'm over it.

No hard feelings, Aquaman. I do like the nickname.

Anonymous said...

BTW - speaking of The Hamptons, does anyone know where I can see any pictures of "Grey Gardens" renovated as it is today? I just watched the outrageous Maysles documentary on the Edie's and I'm fascinated. Any insight or direction appreciated.

I haven't been to Georgica Pond in years, but I remember what a crazy place it was.

Anonymous said...

how about billy joels house thats for sale in the hamptons, would like to see a write up & pics on that one.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bentley,

I knew I'd read -- eons ago -- that Sally and Ben Bradlee restored it. Didn't start holding onto my ADs til 1991 (silly me), but found the index on it. Ebay might have it, or a university library with strong architecture bent. Hope this helps.

Architectural Digest 12/84 Beatrix Potter Issue; Description: Clues from the Past-Restoring the Beauty of Grey Gardens in East Hampton

Anonymous said...

Sandpiper, thank you so much for the tips!

My grandmother was there back in the day, said it was gorgeous (as were the Edie's) and then to see the movie - the pedigree, the neighborhood, the filth!! "They'll get you for wearing red shoes on a Thursday in East Hampton!" What a line. I'm so intrigued.

I'll dig into it.

Thanks again.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Gittis had impeccable taste. This house is a piece of art in itself. He not only collected art, he lived in it.

Anonymous said...

it's boring,not impeccable,just boring,his wife did this place and his gay Cuban lover did the Palm Beach house you can tell.

Anonymous said...

I have seen pictures of the house when it was originally decorated. It looked pretty great -- its just over time lots of things got shifted about so it lost some of its oomph. I also think the real estate photographer took terrible photos and had a bad stylist.

Anonymous said...

The house and interiors are FABULOUS!!
It's done by Thomas Jayne, for heaven's sake!!!
And MRS. Gittis is the one with the superb taste, not Mr.
And 15,000 square feet is not so huge in relation to big houses for rich people. There are many larger houses, but this one is superb and maintained to PERFECTION!