Southampton billionaire Derwood Hodgegrass came under fire from environmental groups, citizens and even local police last week after going public with his ocean warming device, “Sea-Lysium VII,” which proved able to heat 100 square yards of ocean “from 47 degrees to a balmy 82” in the span of two hours.
In an exclusive interview, the wealthy eccentric told South O’ the Highway that he expected “praise and excitement” for his plan to artificially raise water temperatures and turn the Hamptons into a year-round beach resort. Instead he received angry calls, internet rage and a visit from Southampton police just before Thanksgiving.
“They tried to blame me for this bluefish die off,” Hodgegrass said, recounting a tense conversation with detectives, who questioned whether he had tested his machine in Mecox Bay around November 15, when hundreds of dead bluefish washed ashore. “It’s absolute hogwash,” he sneered, pointing out that the local paper of record reported the fish were killed from cold temperatures or low salinity.
“These men insisted I show them Sea-Lysium VII, but I refused,” Hodgegrass continued. “It is not within their purview to ‘examine’ my machine, and I won’t have them place their grubby mitts all over it.”
The billionaire’s in-house attorney and pal Sullivan McHale kept the investigators at bay, but he acknowledged that it was neither the first, nor the last, attempt by authorities to take control of Sea-Lysium VII. “I fear this will end badly,” McHale said, adding, “They are quite determined to stop us from warming the South Shore, but we’re a long way from making enough of these machines to accomplish anything beyond swimming in a small section of ocean.”
Hodgegrass admits he has some regrets about going public with his machine prematurely. “I may have jumped the gun here,” he said. “All this negative attention is a bummer, and it’s affecting other aspects of my life now,” Hodgegrass continued. “My art is suffering and I have no spiritual outlet since my shaman decided to spend my money and drive my Gallardo,” he said. “This is no way for a handsome playboy of my means to live—I’m terribly vexed.”
Until the issue is resolved or things quiet down, McHale said his friend and client has been considering some “outlandish purchases” and planning a party that will put even his most decadent soirees to shame.