After shelling out $23 million for a 13,000-square-foot oceanfront house on East Hampton’s Further Lane, Wall Street money manager Ron Baron must have had quite a shock when he discovered that the gentle murmurs he was hearing weren’t waves breaking on the shore.
Baron claims that the Sotheby’s broker who sold him the four-bedroom house neglected to mention that at night, the predominantly gay Two Mile Hollow beach turns into a heavily trafficked plage d’amour where men do to each other under the stars what the Supreme Court finally said they’re allowed to do in their bedrooms.
Although Baron’s neighbors, like Adelaide de Menil and Democratic fund-raiser Liz Robbins, are apparently unbothered by such activity, Baron hastily formed the Further Lane Association (of which he is the only publicly identified member), which hired an ex-cop to videotape the men in action—and put guards on the dunes during the day to tape everyone else.
East Hampton Village police chief Gerard Larsen declined to watch the tapes, but last month undercover officers arrested three men for disorderly conduct and two for public lewdness. With outrage growing in the gay community, Tom Kirdahy, co-chair of the East End Gay Organization, called Baron to invite him to a town-hall meeting. According to Kirdahy, Baron, who didn’t show, became contentious: “He said he had very deep pockets, and that he wasn’t going to stop until his war was won, and that it wasn’t going to be a limited action, like Vietnam.”
Over 200 people did turn up for the July 12 meeting, many with rather deep pockets themselves. One gay Further Lane homeowner, Joe Nahem, gleefully warned that 1,000 men could assemble in protest at Baron’s house. “Mr. Baron,” he continued, “has no idea what he’s getting into!”
But Baron, recently hit with a $2.7 million fine for manipulating stock prices, seems to realize that he may be losing the PR war. He’s hired a spokesperson, Cathy Callegari, who insists that Baron is not the only member of the association and that he’s “not homophobic,” noting that he just dined with a gay couple. She adds that the tapes have been destroyed and that no more will be made.
Meanwhile, Baron, who has considered suing his ex-broker, clearly doesn’t think a gay beach should affect his property values (even if it may offend his family values): His house is now up for sale for $32 million—or $9 million more than what he paid for it.