Sandy ravages East End, hitting Billy Joel’s and Ronald Lauder’s houses

Primary worry is erosion, sources say, but overall damage could have been worse

From left: Ronald Lauder and Billy Joel
From left: Ronald Lauder and Billy Joel

Hurricane Sandy hit the Hamptons hard, leading to decimated homes, power outages for hundreds of residents and an ocean breach of Wainscott Pond in the town of East Hampton, according to sources and published reports. But the damage could have been considerably worse.

“The water did breach through on some of the ocean fronts,” said Susan Breitenbach, a Hamptons mega-broker with the Corcoran Group.

Georgica Beach in East Hampton “was hit very hard,” said Jeffrey Colle, a high-end Hamptons developer located in Wainscott.

Several Hamptons-based brokers observed that the Atlantic Ocean had surged into Wainscott Pond, reportedly a rare occurrence. “Wainscott Pond seems to have been breached,” Colle said, “but I can’t get there because police won’t let anyone onto the beach.”

The Wainscott home of cosmetics baron and philanthropist Ronald Lauder was completely destroyed, according to a report from the East Hampton Press. No address was given.

In Sagaponack, Colle said he saw “an enormous amount of erosion in the main dune,” where he nearly fell off an eight-foot drop near singer Billy Joel’s home that used to be a beach. “The road stops and you walk onto the sand usually, and, well, now the road stops and it’s just eight feet down,” Colle said. Joel’s home, near Gibson Road per published reports, has a current asking price of $16.75 million, according to

Elsewhere in Sagaponack, the water had reached homes, Breitenbach said, although she did not know the extent of the damage.

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Along Daniels Lane in Sagaponack, homes were nearly washed out and blocked off by law enforcement officials, news reports said. Dune Road in Bridgehampton reportedly suffered the same fate.

In Nyack, homes that were once three houses back from the ocean “are now waterfront,” Breitenbach said.

Across the Hamptons, erosion was a major problem for waterfront properties. “Houses were left teetering on their pilings,” due to sand being washed away by erosion, said Paul Brennan, Hamptons regional manager for Prudential Douglas Elliman.

“Areas with thin or small dune systems were almost uniformly overrun by the surf,” the East Hampton press said. “In several places along barrier islands in Hampton Bays, East Quogue and Quogue the ocean washed across Dune Road and flowed into Shinnecock and Tiana Bay.”

Damage from water breaching artificial and natural dunes was also reported in downtown Montauk and in Mecox Beach, in Bridgehampton.

But the East End fared better than it might have, sources told The Real Deal.

“The East End dodged a bullet!” said Judi Desiderio, CEO of Town & Country Real Estate, a prominent Hamptons brokerage. “But we have major erosion,” she added.