Big Dogs: People Throwing Their Weight Around in the Hamptons

Young people dancing at a nightclub

Certain individuals are proving to be Big Dogs in Southampton, East Hampton and Montauk.


Marc Rowan, co-founder of the private equity firm Apollo Global Management and worth over $3 billion according to Forbes, bought Duryea’s Lobster Deck a few years ago. For about a century before, this was a lobster wholesale business and icehouse without any retail space. By the time Rowan got it, it had become a take-out lobster bar with a few tables and chairs on an outside dock in disrepair, where, if you requested it, waiters and waitresses would bring you your order on paper plates. The retail and wholesale business were now minimal. The several buildings on this property were historic, the location faced the sunset over water, and it was just a wonderful thing to go down there for a lobster roll and fries and a nice beer. It was also surrounded by residential homes, at least on the north side, and also across the street, where Rowan also bought some property.

In 2015, Rowan proposed to tear the whole thing down and rebuild it as a 6,360-square-foot restaurant seating 100 inside and 50 outside. As many as 350 customers could potentially be there at any one time.

Since the place had no zoning for a restaurant and had been only categorized for takeout as an accessory to its retail-wholesale business, it remained to be seen how it could be converted into a restaurant, particularly one of a size that would rival Gosman’s over at Montauk Harbor.

Plans and lawsuits shot back and forth over the next three years. But then two weeks ago, a settlement was reached. According to the Independent, Rowan will get almost everything he asked for in exchange for not letting his dock be used for a ferry service from elsewhere, although it could still be used as a drop-off point for launches from ships anchored offshore, opponents believe.

The agreement gets around the lack of a restaurant designation by declaring that what is proposed is simply take-out service, but with waiters and waitresses to be employed to bring out food under a clause in the Americans with Disabilities Act that says customers requiring assistance or having any other condition can be provided with such wait-table services upon request. The word “restaurant” is never used, the report says.

The deal has now been agreed to, all the lawsuits back and forth have been dropped, and it seems in spite of additional yelling and complaining by some, particularly town councilman Jeffrey Bragman, it’s done.

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Scott Shleifer is a partner in Wall Street firm Tiger Global. Institutional Investor estimates that last year he earned an income of $260 million on his deals. Mr. Shleifer wants to build a big project in the estate section of Southampton by combining two adjacent oceanfront parcels to give him more room. His main house, if it gets approved, would be 14,561 square feet. He also is asking to get approval for an adjacent 5,055-square-foot guesthouse.

Members of a social group in Southampton called the Southampton Association often, by vote in their group, offer their approval—or, more often, disapproval—of such plans before the Village Board. Back in the bad old days, only those of a certain persuasion were accepted in this tight historic community. There were even clauses in the deeds of some of these properties saying that they could not be sold to individuals from certain minority groups. As it has happened, in 2016, objections were raised about the application of Mr. Shleifer by, among others, Susan Stevenson who is now the Chairwoman of the Southampton Village Board of Architectural Review and Historic Preservation, while at the same time she was a member and treasurer of the Southampton Association.

As this project continues to bounce around through the various boards and courts, a recent demand by Mr. Schleifer’s attorney declares that Ms. Stevenson, because of her affiliation with the Southampton Association, should recuse herself from Mr. Schleifer proposal to the Board of Architectural Review, as her appearance on that board is a conflict of interest with her other activities at the Southampton Association. To this writing, Ms. Stevenson has not recused herself.

In 2017 the project got the go-ahead from the board, but then a lawsuit protesting this was filed, claiming that, according to The Southampton Press, in the approval process it was stated that the size of the house was appropriate for the parcel under zoning, although no consideration was given to its square footage. The lawsuit, which resulted in a judge overturning that approval, caused it to be sent back for further review.


It is not often that very rich people like to have their private lives hung out to dry, but developer Harry Macklowe of East Hampton personally did exactly that a few days ago by causing a photograph of himself and his new wife to be displayed 42 feet tall on the side of one of the skyscrapers he owns in Manhattan. The feat made the front page of the New York Post on Thursday.

In the past, Harry Macklowe famously battled with neighbor Martha Stewart about some shrubbery that separates their two homes in East Hampton, a fight that became public when Ms. Stewart was accused, a few years later, of backing into one of Macklowe’s gardeners with her Grand Cherokee (she denied the accusations, and the DA’s office said it did not have enough to press charges). Now he is letting the world know this: His divorce is indeed final. He’s all right. His then-estimated $2 billion reportedly was roughly split down the middle, with his now ex-wife getting $1 billion and he the other billion. They were married for 57 years.

Harry is moving on. As it’s signed and sealed, there is Harry, age 81, up there next to his new wife for everybody to see, and they are both smiling down. It’s particularly poignant because his ex-wife, The New York Times writes, had, at one time, refused to take an apartment in that building. The Post headlined “The Height of Spite” on its front page, and on page 8, went with the headline “An Old Goat’s Towering Gloat.” Mr. Macklowe is almost old enough to be his new wife’s father (she’s 64).

With the ink on the divorce now dry, the photos went up on Tuesday on the side of the building at Park and 56th Street, which has been billed as the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere. His love for Patricia Landau is THAT big. And two days later, they got married in an outsized wedding in Manhattan.


The successful restaurant and bar known as The Sloppy Tuna in Montauk is owned by four men who once all worked for Seaport Global Securities, a Wall Street firm. They bought Sloppy Tuna in 2011, but by last year there were so many lawsuits flying around among the four of them about what amount each owned, occupancy rights, ownership of the trademark and other points that a judge declared it should be operated by a court-appointed receiver until it could all be sorted out. Last week, a judge ruled that from now on, all four owners—Michael Meyer, Stephen Smith, Michael Meagan and Drew Doscher—will each be getting exactly 25% of the business going forward.

The Big Dogs are in town. They bark and, sometimes, they bite.

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