Dan Rattiner's Stories

Oceanfront: How Ignas Zukauskas’ Days on the Beach Went Terribly Wrong

Yes, you too can live the high life in the Hamptons, even if you don’t have the money and you are not invited.

On Saturday, August 8, a woman friend of the wife of J. Michael Evans, President of Alibaba, arrived at the Evans’ oceanfront home in Southampton and, with the permission of Lise Evans, headed over to the small cottage down on the beach nearby being renovated. This cottage was on property that Mr. Evans had just bought. The woman wanted to use the cottage to change into her bathing suit and go ocean swimming from there. After that, she’d come back to the main house, thank everybody for her adventure and then head home.

Because of the construction, no one had been using the cottage, of course. The family did notice there was a car parked on the far side of it. Maybe it was a workman’s car.

The woman walked into the cottage and encountered a nice young man in the kitchen making a sandwich. They each startled the other. The woman said she was just a friend of Lise’s. The man said he was too. So he went back to his sandwich, she changed and had her swim and then went back to the main house to thank the Evans family before going home.

When she mentioned that she had encountered a nice man at the cottage, Mrs. Evans told her that she did not know anyone was there. She had not invited anyone. Mrs. Evans then asked others in the house, children and guests, if they invited anyone. Nobody had invited him. So she called the police.

The Southampton Village Police arrived with their usual weaponry when called in like this. It was approximately 1:12 p.m., according to the police blotter, when the call came in. They were met outside the cottage, a distance away from it, by Mrs. Evans and some of the houseguests. The police advised them not to go too near the cottage. But they didn’t go too far away. The police searched the house and found nothing. They then started to leave, and at that point they noticed the car. Looking at its registration, they determined it was a rental. They called the rental company. It had been rented at a location in Connecticut four days before. There were still 21 days left on the rental. And now the police had a name and a driver’s license.

The name was Ignas Zukauskas, age 34, and he was from Lithuania. The police searched the house once again, and still found nothing. And at that point, one of the guests noticed there was a man up on the roof. They shouted to the police and pointed, but by the time the police started up, he’d jumped down. Now the police doubled their efforts and they searched the house again, but he again could not be found. How had he gotten away? In the house, the police found a refrigerator full of expensive foods, including caviar and other delicacies. They catalogued it all. The Evans family, asked if they had put it there, said they had not. Where had it come from? After a while, their efforts exhausted, the police left.

Later that evening, according to neighbors, the police were notified that this man was once again on the beach.

The next day, the police returned with dogs and a small female police officer who had been trained to slide into vents and chimneys and fireplaces and other small spaces. The dogs barked and sniffed at a certain corner inside the house, and that’s where the police found Mr. Zukauskas, the next afternoon, at 5:38 p.m. Neighbors said he was in a chimney with a backpack and duffel stuffed up there with him, and he seemed delighted they had been unable to find him. According to Southampton Mayor Mark Epley, who was familiar with this story, Zukauskas said at one point they’d walked right over where he was hiding under a panel. The police were not amused.

Neither was Mrs. Evans. When asked, she said yes, she would like to press charges. Zukauskas was charged with two counts of criminal trespass in the second degree, and one count of criminal trespass in the third degree. He was led away, to the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead, where, unable to post a bond of $12,500, he remained in a cell until finally he was given his day in court, pled guilty to some of the charges and was released, sentenced time served.

One interesting thing about all this involves Facebook. One of the members of the Evans family, upon learning the name of the perpetrator, went online to Facebook, typed in the name Ignas Zukauskas and, bingo, there he was. And still is. Even now, as of this writing, you can see Ignas Zukauskas in photos out on an upper deck overlooking the beach, taking a selfie and writing about how much fun he is having.

Then there is a report of this event on Bloomberg News, in their online edition of August 11. Bloomberg only brushes briefly about the man from Lithuania. Mostly they report it as a sidelight to an important polo match in Water Mill the day before.

ROBIN HOOD POLO HITS $1 MILLION GOAL AS HAMPTONS SQUATTER FOUND is the headline.

“A Hong Kong- business trip meant that J. Michael Evans, the President of Alibaba, not only missed the Hamptons polo match benefitting the Robin Hood Foundation on Sunday,” the Bloomberg article begins, “but also the discovery of a squatter in the house he recently bought nearby.”

The next paragraph in the Bloomberg story tells about how Mr. Evans’ wife Lise came to realize they had a problem when a friend went to the home to access the beach and found the man making a sandwich.

But after that the article is back to the polo. The event was the Piaget Hamptons Cup polo match, held adjacent to a tent at the Equuleus Polo Club in Water Mill. It took place on August 9. The million dollars raised went to the Robin Hood Foundation to help the poor. Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras and his wife arrived in a Bugatti. At halftime the guests stomped down the divots, and at the end, an award was made to the pony Seaside.

The story then comes to an end, returning only briefly to mention that the arrest occurred while the asado, the post-match Argentine barbecue dinner, was about to begin on the far side of the field. (As mentioned, the arrest was at 5:38 p.m.) It was a topic of conversation among the spectators as the meal was served, with Mayor Epley attending.

Well, I suppose it’s of interest because this could happen to you. Not being found doing this, of course, but having it happen on your property. Property is the name of the game now, and unlike years ago when everything was wide open and you’d meet new people who might knock on your door to ask for directions, it’s now about hedgerows, allowing who you want in and keeping everybody else, including barbarians, out. Nobody passes by the gates without punching in the code.

Our friend from Lithuania may have thought it was okay to use someone’s house under construction, but he found out differently. And hiding out as he did might have worked in Lithuania, but here in the Hamptons it did not. Nobody thought it funny. Maybe his behavior even contributed to his being arrested.

Oh well.

As for you, dear reader, just go to Facebook and type in Ignas Zukauskas, and there you will see lots of pictures of his summer vacation in Southampton and other places, but none of the Riverhead jail.

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