Sagaponack is often listed as the priciest zip code in America. Accordingly, the sleepy village is a favorite among wealthy hedge fund types, and also boasts what may be the largest and most valuable private home in America, billionaire industrialist Ira Rennert’s Fair Field. Close to the Rennert mansion, and also along the ocean, is a more modest (and better looking) residence, built in 2013 and designed by Bates Masi+Architects.
The homeowners, financial whiz Eric Semler and wife Tracy Chutorian Semler, had the house on and off the market several times over the years, with asking prices that went as high as $60 million. But, as so often happens with these big deals these days, the property ended up selling in an off-market transaction that closed in January. The recorded sale price is $50 million, and the buyer a typically anonymous LLC. (Interestingly, property records show the transfer as a non-arm’s-length transaction, which means the seller and buyer have a personal relationship.)
The Semlers bought the 3.2-acre property, with its 300 feet of oceanfront, in 2006 for $18.5 million, and then commissioned a new house. And what a house! It’s so stunning, in fact, it won numerous architectural awards and was even once featured in a Chanel No. 5 commercial, directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Gisele Bündchen.
Set on a thin strip of land between the ocean and a freshwater pond, the linear form of the house maximizes views. The architects said that their design process was “subtraction rather than addition; the structure was envisaged as carving away at the solid mass of the house to reconnect site features and views.” Spaces within the house are defined using moveable partitions that pull out from the walls. The structure was built with low-maintenance materials, including steel and cedar cladding on the interior, poured concrete floors, stainless steel, and Corian in kitchens and baths.
The house is one room deep, with floor to ceiling retractable glass doors on both sides that allow ocean breezes to waft through and cool the house. Throughout are myriad Bates Masi’s signature touches: including horizontal slats, simple clean lines, walls of glass, and natural textures. Particularly nice, and something Bates Masi is known for, is the way the structure frames vistas of water and sky.
Going indoors, the slats are employed in a novel way, as a wall treatment to hold wine bottles, along with custom lighting and a mirror backing. The kitchen’s breakfast bar/island is clad in oak, which is also used on the space’s ceiling and a 20-foot-wide divider wall, along with the custom dining tables in both the kitchen and dining room. The architects’ attention to detail is extraordinary; notice how the cutout on the kitchen island echoes the stainless-steel backed cutout for the kitchen range.
There are nine bedrooms in all, two on the ground floor with retractable glass walls and four more identical suites for the sellers’ four sons, and a total of ten bathrooms, plus a powder room, all set within 11,000 square feet. Unsurprisingly, the master suite is outfitted for just the sort of person who can afford a $50 million beach house, with twin baths, both featuring walls of glass and Corian surfaces, and a private terrace with an ocean-view outdoor shower.
Outside, there are a oceanside pool, poolhouse and a tennis/sport court, plus a rooftop deck with kitchen, fireplace and spa tub. And of course, the always coveted beach and ocean lies right outside the back door.