SELLER: Vince and Louise Camuto
LOCATION: Southampton, NY’
SIZE: 9,611 square feet, 10 bedrooms, 10.5 bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Thanks to a brief missive from our unofficial aide de camp Hot Chocolate it’s come to Your Mama’s attention that shoe tycoon Vince Camuto and his former beauty queen wife, Louise,* have slapped a fat $48 million price tag on Wooldon Manor, their historic ocean front estate in Southampton, NY.**
Settle down sisters, Your Mama knows Mister Camuto may not a household name in the vein of a Tinseltown celebrity but in the dog-eat-pony world of mid-prices ladies’ shoes he is a power player of the highest order. He co-founded the Nine West footwear brand in 1978, which was sold to Jones Apparel Group in the late 1990s for nearly $900 million, and since 2001 his eponymous Camuto Group has provided design, development, marketing, and distribution for a variety of licensed shoe brands including (but not limited to) those of Jessica Simpson, Tory Burch, and BCBG Maz Azria. He also has a handful of his own footwear, handbag, accessories and apparel brands, among them VC Signature, Louise Et Cie, and Two by Vince Camuto.
The house that’s nowadays known as Wooldon Manor was built in the early 1930s by five-and-dime heiress Jessie Woolworth Donahue and husband James Donahue as the pool house to a gigantic Tudor style residence designed by the noted architecture firm Barney & Chapman and built in 1900 for a wealthy physician turned stock broker named Peter B. Wyckoff. (Interior shots of the demolished Wyckoff manse can be seen here on the always delectably informative Old Long Island blog). So the scuttlebutt goes, Missus Woolworth Donahue hired high society architects William Treanor and Maurice Fatio to design her deluxe pool and pool house after she was rejected for membership in the notoriously snooty Southampton Bathing Corporation for not being waspy enough. Quel scandale! Anyways…
Sometime in the 1930s Wooldon Manor was acquired by financier Edmund Lynch—he was the Lynch in Merrill Lynch—who died in 1938. The sprawling oceanfront estate fell into a state of disrepair and in 1941 the massive main house was demolished and a number of the estate’s numerous outbuildings, including Missus Woolworth Donahue’s pool house, converted to private residences.
Property records Your Mama peeped and perused are, at best, vague so we’ not entirely sure when or for how much Mister and Missus Camuto paid for the the various pieces of multi-parcel estate. Even though Your Mama’s online investigation and rudimentary calculations indicate Mister and Missus Camuto actually own six separate but contiguous parcels that total 14.29 acres, listing details point out that the $48 million price tag includes only about 5.5 acres. Unspecified additional acreage is also available for an unknown price.
The existing residence, renovated and expanded over the years to become a proper main house with a separate pool house of it’s own, was did over by Mister and Missus Camuto and measures about 10,000 square feet, according to current listing details, with 10 bedrooms and 10.5 bathrooms. Interior details include five fireplaces, origami-like vaulted ceilings with carved wood accents, limestone floors, and custom bronze and glass doors. In addition to the cavernous formal living and dining rooms, the Camuto’s seaside summer house also includes a paneled library, a spacious center island kitchen with adjacent breakfast room, a finished basement and a home theater.
The day-core shown in listing photos is certainly correct and we’d bet both our long bodied bitches, Linda and Beverly, the furnishings cost the Camuto’s more money than most people will ever see in their lifetimes. However, iffin we’re being honest—and we always are—we’d tell the children that we find it all to be rather predictable and a boring. Much of the original architectural details, however, are fab and we admit that some of the more new-fangle-y interjections, such as the interior glass and bronze windows that separate the sky-lit upper landing and the master suite, are thrillingly unexpected.
As should they should in a beach front summer residence, many rooms at Wooldon Manor provide direct access to the vast outdoor living and entertainment areas that include an ocean view loggia that links to a (mostly) glass-enclosed terrace designed, we presume, to be used when the afternoon winds whip up off the surf. Recreational amenities includes broad flat lawns for croquet and lawn darts (or whatever sorts of lawn games rich people play), a sizable ocean-side swimming pool and pool house, a chain link fenced tennis court, small chunks of formal gardens, and a glass-roofed greenhouse folly that’s flanked by a pair of classical columned open air pavilions.
Some of Mister and Missus Camuto’s nearest Gin Lane neighbors include octogenarian businessman Carl Spielvogel, the former ambassador to Slovakia, and his wife, Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, whose 12,000 square foot Lake Agawam-fronting mansion has been on and off the market for at least six years and is currently listed at $24,995,000.
Other Gin Lane homeowners of note (and/or noteriety) include shopping mall magnate A. Alfred Taubman; hedge fund fat cat Mark Rachesky; entrepreneur George Kraus—he and his wife own auto heiress Anne Ford’s former beach front house; petroleum and gas baron Robert Belfer; music industry mogul Martin Bandier; influential businessman billionaire Herbert Allen Jr.; movie producer (and co-founder of Planet Hollywood) Keith Barish,; blue-chip artist Roy Lichtenstein’s widow Dorothy; private equity poo-bah Jonathan Sokoloff; and Citigroup honcho James C. Cowles. Retired hedge funder/investor Chris Shumway is the much rumored but unconfirmed $60 million buyer of a six acre ocean front estate that once belonged to flamboyant Broadway producer Marty Richards.
Vera Wang’s late, sick-rich father owned a Gin Lane estate that’s now owned by J. Michael Cline, a healthcare industry investor and the co-founder of ticket service behemoth Fandango, who bought the 2.2 acre estate in 2007 for $11.5 million and unsuccessfully attempted to unload it last year for $17.5 million. Next door the Wang/Cline crib, the estate of the late New York Times owner/publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger was listed last fall (2012) for 13.9 million. While at least one online listing indicates the property was sold for $10,200,000, property records Your Mama perused shows the estate is still owned by Mister Sulzberger’s estate. Make of that what you will. Anyways and finally, in 2011 a corporate concern connected to hedge funder Scott Bommer paid $14,500,000 for a storied tear down cottage on 1.6 prime ocean front acres and it is retired hedge funder/investor Chris Shumway who is most often named as the mysterious 2008 buyer who paid $60 million for a six acre ocean front estate that had long been owned flamboyant Broadway producer Marty Richards and was briefly (and erroneously) believed by property gossips around the globe to have been acquired by philandering professional golfer Tiger Woods.
It could be that Mister and Missus Camuto want to sell Wooldon Manor—or at least a portion of it—since it’s not the only historic and brutally high maintenance Hamptons estate they currently own. In 2005 they shelled out $35,000,000 to buy Villa Maria, a grand (but decrepit) 21,000 square foot mansion on 15 acres in the heart of Water Mill with 1,100 feet of frontage on Mill Creek and Mecox Bay. The original house had been built in the late 1880s and had a series of owners before it was acquired by a group of Catholic nuns in the early 1930s. The sisters first used the massive house as a training facility for novitiates and later as a retirement home for nuns. At some point it because a sort of non-denominational spiritual center.
Anyways, by the time the Camutos came along the massive house was in sad shambles. Many of the vast rooms had been divided into dormitory style accommodations, there was a substantial breach in the roof above the entrance hall and an entire wing had been all but destroyed by water damage. With the help of New York architect Andre Tchelistcheff, the Camutos spent four years and God only knows how many millions re-building the titanic, 11 bedroom house and transforming it into a period fantasia injected with a kind of low-key/high-brow Shabby Chic elegance. The imposing mansion includes a double height entry with sweeping staircase and faux-limestone walls; a 60-foot long living room with a long of white slip-covered furniture; a paneled gallery that looks long enough in pictures to accommodate a bowling alley; a double height atrium with gilded dome ceiling; and a formal dining room wrapped in Venetian plaster. Less formal family quarters include a colossal country kitchen with Carrara marble counter tops and a media room tucked up into the eaves on the upper level. A post renovation Villa Maria was featured and fawned over in the July (2013) issue of Architectural Digest.
In addition to their impressive and high maintenance residential real estate holdings in the Hamptons, Mister and Missus Camuto also maintain an imposing, early 20th century French Normandy style chateau on 30-plus secluded acres in Greenwich, CT.
*Missus Camuto, a high level executive at The Camuto Group, was crowned Miss Sweden in 1989 and later went on to be the runner up in the Miss Universe pageant.
**The kids at Curbed Hamptons already discussed the matter but we figured we’d go ahead and dive in anyways…
listing photos: Sotheby’s International Realty