With the sun setting over the improbable views of Peconic Bay framing Southampton’s Sebonack Golf Club, the largest celebration of Hamptons real estate kicked off the season with a who’s who of the industry at the third annual Privet Hedge Dinner on April 27, raising glasses to one another and to another great summer on the horizon. An air of conviviality filled the air as they gathered with hosts Dan’s Papers and AVENUE Magazine to toast the individuals who move and define the market here. After a tribute to the memory of one of the industry’s true luminaries and dear friends, Alice Bell, the evening proceeded to the Golden Globes–esque awards presentations.
There may have been no room anywhere in the free world filled with more people who love a big deal—or, truth be told, as many big deals as possible. To pay homage to that sentiment, Robert Reffkin, CEO of Compass Real Estate, presented the Big Deal Broker Award to Compass’s Ed Petrie. “It’s always nice when good things happen to good people,” Reffkin said of Petrie, whose past year of deals was laudable in size and scope. “He has the greatest level of integrity, obviously experience, and a level of calmness that I have not seen in a broker.”
After recognizing a number of individuals in the room with whom he has shared a special bond over the years—Paul Brennan, Peter Turino and Harald Grant—Petrie humbly accepted the award. “I think after 30 years, you have to get lucky,” he said to laughter, eliciting a shout-out of “More than luck, Eddie, more than luck” from Grant, seated nearby.
In addition to big deals, the Privet Hedge Dinner honors brokers who go the extra mile to work not only with their clients but with their fellow brokers. Winners of the Brokers’ Broker Award have earned the respect of their peers by displaying a high level of professionalism, knowledge and genuine passion for the East End market, and this year’s honoree—Peter Turino, President of Brown Harris Stevens of the Hamptons—was certainly no exception. “Peter has an amazing love of architecture, a knowledge of the history and provenance of some of the old fine estate homes of the Hamptons,” noted Cia Comnas, Executive Managing Director of Brown Harris Stevens of the Hamptons, in presenting the award. “The way in which Peter conducts his business, the passion and the integrity that I’ve witnessed and the quiet dignity, is something that I truly admire.”
“I think this business is about having some fun. And success just seems to follow,” Turino said. “And having fun means enjoying what you are doing. That is, enjoying the properties, enjoying the people, enjoying the daily routine and ultimately a long career. It’s not a bad thing.”
This year a new honor was part of the festivities—the Master Marketer Award, reflecting the growing role that marketing is playing for individuals in the Hamptons real estate world. It was inspired by the individuals who show an ongoing dedication to marketing in all its iterations—advertising, PR, branding—as brokers strive to market not only their homes but themselves and their companies. As presenter Paul Brennan of Douglas Elliman Real Estate eloquently put it, “It brings art and science together. As we all know, trying to find that formula of marketing yourself and the company and the products, the houses that we represent, is a very, very difficult task.”
And one that has been mastered by the inaugural winner, Douglas Elliman’s Enzo Morabito. “We love what we do, we take pride, the Enzo Morabito Team. Sometimes we do it wrong,” Morabito said with a smile. “A couple years ago, Paul said, ‘This guy has 100 ideas, but about two or three of them stick.’ And that’s really what our business is all about.”
The final honor of the evening went to an individual who has made a long-standing impression on the real estate landscape in the Hamptons, and whose professionalism has been consistently recognized and respected by clients as well as her peers in the community.
“There’s a myth out there that anybody can be a real estate agent, but in your successes you prove that real estate professionals are truly the hardest professionals to be,” presenter Theresa Quigley, Executive Managing Director and General Counsel at Saunders, said. “To achieve your success it takes work ethic, patience, respect for competing agents, understanding layers of governmental regulations, working with governmental employees, and of course skill at working with and juggling buyers, sellers, attorneys, inspectors, surveyors, and all the rest of them. All while keeping all those players headed towards the goal. There’s no one better at it than Diane Saatchi.”
As the applause quieted, Saatchi stepped to the front to accept the honor. “I think it’s easier to spend 30 years working as a broker than coming up here tonight,” she said to audience laughter, “but I thank you.”
Sponsors of the 2016 Privet Hedge Dinner included Adam Miller Group, AltaNeve, Chateau D’Esclans, Cloud 9 Exotics, Cook Maran, Flowers by Topaz, Modern Barn, MC Home Loans, Peter Cook and Systems Design.