Step into the realm of opulence and grandeur as we explore the captivating world of the Ira Rennert House, an architectural marvel built on the prestigious Fair Field site in Sagaponack, New York. This extraordinary mansion, worth a staggering US$249 million, stands as a testament to the lavish lifestyle of billionaire Ira Rennert. Nestled amidst the breathtaking beauty of the Hamptons, Fair Field Estate is a true symbol of luxury and sophistication.
With its sprawling grounds and magnificent design, Fair Field Mansion is a sight to behold. Boasting an impressive 110,000 square feet of living space spread across 63 acres, this remarkable residence is a feat of engineering and craftsmanship. The mansion features an astounding 29 bedrooms, 39 bathrooms, and an array of extravagant amenities that rival those of the most exclusive resorts.
As we delve deeper into the world of Fair Field, we uncover the stories behind its creation and the controversies that surrounded it. From its own power plant and three swimming pools to a stunning Synagogue, two courtyards, an orangery, a 164-seat home theater, a basketball court, and even a bowling alley, no expense was spared in crafting this architectural masterpiece.
While the sheer scale and luxury of Fair Field may leave you awestruck, the journey doesn’t end there. Join us as we discover the fascinating tales of the Rennert family, including Ira Rennert himself, his wife Ingeborg Hanna Rennert, and their daughter Tamara Rennert Winn. Uncover the captivating details of their lives and the legacy they have created within the walls of Fair Field.
Prepare to be enchanted by the allure of the Hamptons as we unveil the secrets of the largest house in the region. Delve into the world of Four Fairfield Pond, the breathtaking estate that has become synonymous with luxury and prestige. Explore the vast expanses of the property, from its meticulously manicured gardens to its picturesque ponds, and experience the epitome of refined living.
Join us on this remarkable journey as we uncover the grandeur of Fair Field, delve into the intriguing stories of the Rennert family, and immerse ourselves in the splendor of the Hamptons. Discover why Fair Field is not just a house but a true symbol of wealth, ambition, and the pursuit of the extraordinary. Welcome to the world of Fair Field Estate, where dreams become a reality and luxury knows no bounds.
In case any readers were wondering, constructing a 62,000-square-foot mansion and all these amenities wasn’t cheap, costing around US$110 million: the property as a whole was valued at around $249 million on completion. According to the Financial Times, it would be listed for around $500 million today.
Fortunately, Rennert has deep pockets. With an estimated worth of US$4 billion, he could easily have afforded to pay for the project from his own pocket. However, he was recently in court defending the funding of his Sagaponack estate. Representatives of a now-defunct mining business he used to own claimed he looted the company to realize his vision. In February 2018, Rennert was ordered to pay at least US$118 million in damages. It seems then that the sheer level of luxury available in Fair Field is matched only by the controversy behind its creation. We’re here to walk you through this giant limestone Italian Renaissance home and its surrounding estate. Our thanks go out to our friend Jeff Cully at EEFAS for supplying the gorgeous aerial photos and video footage of the property.
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Who lives in a house like this?
The media may have slightly overstated the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. According to Zillow, which collects real estate data from public records, the main house has 21 bedrooms and 18 bathrooms. This makes a little more sense than building a house with more bathrooms than guests. In addition to the colossal main mansion, the Fair Field site contains a playhouse and two big houses with a pool.
According to Crain’s and Southampton’s news site 27East, the playhouse contains a basketball court and a two-lane bowling alley. There are also billiards as well as two tennis and squash courts. As Rennert seems to have very few visitors, it’s not clear who he plays with. The number of disputes the reclusive Rennert has had with neighbors has actually helped to gather more information about his house: for instance, a complaint about the path of his private helicopter led to a large number of aerial photos being taken: these revealed that the house has 12 chimneys, which would seem to suggest 12 different fireplaces, although hopefully not twelve different chimney sweeps too.
The mansion also contains its very own 164-seat theatre, large enough to stage even a Broadway production if they wished to play to an audience of one.
Rennert’s garage for the estate can hold up to 100 cars. Try to spot the tire swing in this photo.
Love Thy Neighbor
When Rennets first announced the construction of his estate in the ’90s, neighbors said they found the plan “audacious,” according to New York Magazine, and fought the plans “tooth and nail.” They seemed particularly ticked off over Rennet’s plans to build a 10,000-square-foot private museum on his state to house his $500 million art collection. This may be because he allegedly began construction of the museum before seeking the necessary planning permission.
Rennet’s neighbors were also peeved when Rennert requested permission to add a Pilates studio and another bathroom to one of his pool houses in 2013. They were reportedly fed up with the number of zoning rules he’d already scooted around. “I don’t even object to the square footage,” one neighbor told 27East. “It’s a question of the principle.” In the end. The extension was never built.
Many of the issues surrounding the construction of this Long Island Estate were that, technically, no laws had been broken. After Fair Fields was constructed, however, the town of Southampton passed a new zoning ordinance restricting residential dwellings to a maximum of 20,000 square feet of residential space, excluding basements.
The town also passed legislation requiring anyone building a dwelling on a parcel of 15 or more acres in an agricultural district to obtain site plan approval from the town’s Planning Board.
Fair Fields follows in the tradition of others built around the turn of the last Century by tycoons such as the Pratts, Goulds and Whitneys, and Otto H. Kahn. Their ambitious forays into rural Long Island also caused dismay among neighbors, said Robert B. Mackay, director of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities in Cold Spring Harbor.
He is one of three Editors of ‘Long Island Country Houses and their Architects 1860-1940,” published last year by the society in conjunction with Norton & Company. In the introduction, Mr. MacKay, whose co-editors were Anthony K. Baker & Carol A Traynor noted that “the reaction of native Long Islanders to the onslaught of the rich seems to have ranged from anger and resistance to bewilderment.”
The modern-day difference in Sagaponack seems to be that the massive structure and its six to seven outbuildings (depending on who is courting) have aroused intense suspicions in the community that the eventual use of the house will be for a conference center or some other institution.
No one would ever have questioned a Whitney, a Vanderbilt, or a Kahn as to what they intended to do with their enormous edifices since those houses were all built around the same time as summer homes. ‘In those days, you didn’t have income taxes.” Said Orin S. Finkle of Great Neck, who researches old estates. “These houses were a way to outdo your friends, and most were designed by well-known architects of the day.”
In fact, by the standards of Oheka, a French chateau-style castle designed by Delano & Aldrich and completed in 1917 by Kahn, the financier, on 443 acres near Cold Spring Harbor, Fair Field is no big deal.
Oheka tops Fair Field by 50,000 square feet – at 109,000 square feet of the main residence, it’s only the second-largest structure as a private residence in the United States, outranked only by the 174,000-square-foot Biltmore House built by George Vanderbilt in Asheville, In 1895.
The 72-room, 25-bathroom Oheka had its own 18-hole golf course, a racetrack, and an airstrip. Kahn brought in thousands of tons of earth to build the 90-foot-high hill on which the castle stands.
Even all that paled in comparison to the Castle Gould estate in Sands Point built by Howard Gould, son of Jay Gould, who made his fortune in railroads and on Wall Street. He built a 100,000-square-foot structure now called Castle Gould just to house his horses, carriages, and 200 servants. Eight years later, in 1912, he built a second castle for his residence.
The 60,000-square-foot, 40-room mansion was later called Hempstead House when the Gould property was purchased by Daniel Guggenheim, whose family made its fortune in silver and copper mining. Guggenheim’s son, Harry F., whose third wife Alicia Patterson founded Newsday, built his 20,000-square-foot residence called Falaise in 2913 on 90 acres that were subdivided from his father’s 262-acre estate.
In Glen Cove, Charles Pratt, one of the founders of the Standard Oil Company and the founder of the Pratt Institute, purchased 800 acres that later became a family compound encompassing 82 buildings that included 21 residences. The surviving Pratt houses include the Manor House on Dosoris Lane, built by Thomas T. Pratt in 1911. It is now known as the Harrison Conference Center, which with later additions, now has 198 bathroom suites.
Oheka is being transformed over five years into a 50-suite luxury health spa. And the entire Sands Point complex, minus 36 acres, is now owned by Nassau County, which operates it as a museum and as an office for the county’s Department of Parks.
Opponents of the Sagaponack house say that the institutional uses of the great houses of the past, now that the mansions have outlived their viability as a private residence, bolsters their arguments that Fair Field is headed in the same direction – only in this case, right from the start.
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The Man Behind the Mansion
Ira L. Rennert, the owner of the Sagaponack property, was hardly known outside his own private circles until news of his building plans hit the East End earlier last year like a hurricane.
He is the President of a privately-held Manhattan-based holding company called Renco that, among other assets, owns a steel plant and a magnesium plant. He is also known as a generous supporter of Jewish causes.
The Sagaponack Homeowners Association and several nearby neighbors have hired John F. Shea III of the Twomey, Latham, Shea & Kelley law firm in Riverhead to represent them in arguments before Southampton’s Board of Zoning and Appeals.
The board has the power to revoke the building permit for the house, which was issued last January. Hearings before the board concluded in September, but it’s still reviewing documents.
A decision is expected in about two months. Mr. Shea said, adding that it can be appealed by either party to the State Supreme Court.
Mr. Shea said that his experts and engineers examined the filed plans, and “having looked at the design and arrangement of this complex, we have determined that this is not a single-family residence.”
“Every aspect of the construction, from the electrical to the steel frame to the mechanicals, is commercial in nature,” he said. The 1,575-square-foot main dining room could seat 105 people. According to engineers retained by the Sagaponack Homeowners Association, systems include a 5,000-gallon drinking water tank and an 8,000-gallon tank.
“Their argument is that someone can build anything they want, and you can’t do anything about that until they use it illegally,” Mr. Shea said. “We say that’s wrong. The code not only addresses illegal activity but also doesn’t allow building an illegal nonconforming structure in a particular zoning district, to begin with.”
Anthony B. Tohill of Riverhead, the lawyer representing Mr. Rennert, said the commercial nature of the construction, including the steel frame, was a way of addressing state fire codes that would otherwise have required self-closing doors and “compartmentalization” of rooms.
“My client’s architects and engineers have designed what my client wanted to have: a large house,” Mr. Tohill said. “My client has repeatedly told people who will listen that this is his private residence and that he has the right to build it.”
Mr. Rennert’s architect, Mr. Ferguson of Manhattan, refused to discuss the design of the house and its outbuildings, and its office referred calls to Ref co’s corporate attorney, Dennis A. Sadlowski of Manhattan.
A rendering shows a very long, mostly two-story structure. Plans call for a limestone exterior and tiled roof. Mr. Tohill said It reminded him of the Frick Museum in Manhattan. But Randall Parsons, a local land planner who was retained by the Sagaponack Homeowners Association to review plans for Fair Field, submitted a report to Southampton’s Zoning Board of Appeals saying that the complex is “designed and arranged in the manner of an exclusive resort, conference center or retreat.” Mr. Parsons said that it could be compared to Gurney’s Inn Resort & Spa in Montauk, which has 11 buildings totaling 53,481 square feet.
But Denis Burke O’Brien, a Sag Harbor lawyer, who is chairwoman of Southampton’s five-member Architectural Review Board, likened the house to a Mediterranean villa:
“I really think that once the house is built and is obscured by the landscaping, the surrounding residents will be happy with it,” she said. However, her board criticized the gatehouse as being reminiscent of an entrance to a military academy. This structure is also being redesigned.
And should the Sagaponack house, in time become too large for residential living like so many of its early 20th Century predecessors?
“Is any community complaining about having a Bayard Cutting Arboretum, a Coe Estate, or a Harrison Conference Center in their midst?” Said Mr. Tohill, the lawyer for Mr. Rennert.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ira Rennert
What is Ira Rennert’s profession?
Ira Rennert is the founder of the Renco Group, a powerful industrial empire with an estimated annual revenue of $5 billion. Renco’s diverse holdings include investments in companies such as AM General, a military truckmaker, Doe Run Company, a lead and zinc producer, and U.S. Magnesium Corp.
Why did Ira Rennert become a controversial figure?
Ira Rennert stirred controversy when he constructed a massive beachfront home in Sagaponack, New York, which is considered one of the largest residential compounds in the United States. This extravagant house sparked outrage among locals, who initially believed that Rennert intended to use it as a spa, hotel, or religious retreat. However, Rennert denied these allegations, and the local newspaper later issued an apology. The property was ultimately named Fair Field after the adjacent body of water, Fairfield Pond.
What is the estimated net worth of Ira Rennert?
Ira Rennert’s net worth is estimated to be $4 billion, making him one of the wealthiest individuals in New York. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Rennert graduated from Brooklyn College and later earned his MBA from New York University. He embarked on a career on Wall Street in the mid-1950s and subsequently attempted to establish his own securities firm in the early 1960s.
How did Ira Rennert accumulate his wealth?
Originally from Brooklyn, Ira Rennert began amassing his fortune through investments in junk bonds during the 1980s. In 2015, a court ruled that Rennert was liable for improperly diverting funds from his business to finance the construction of an extravagant home in Southampton, New York.
What is the controversy surrounding Ira Rennert’s helicopter?
Ira Rennert’s helicopter has drawn significant attention due to its powerful engine, causing vibrations in neighboring homes and substantial noise pollution. Concerned residents are reportedly organizing efforts to restrict Rennert’s use of the disruptive aircraft.
Tell us about Ira Rennert’s family.
Ira Rennert is married to Ingeborg Hanna, a former airline ticket agent who converted to Judaism. Hanna currently serves as the director of the performing arts at Lincoln Center, Inc.
The couple has three children:
Tamara Rennert Winn: Tamara, the daughter of Ira Rennert, is married to Randy Winn. The couple is involved in the real estate business and has made headlines for their purchases and sales of grand mansions. They recently sold their 2,745-square-foot condo at the Chatham for $6.85 million. Randy Winn is a managing director at Standard & Poor and also oversees their IQ business.
Yonina Rennert Davidson: Yonina is the second daughter of Ira and Hanna. Ira Rennert gifted Yonina a luxurious apartment worth $30 million, and she and her husband Davidson have since moved to their new residence on Park Avenue. The property underwent renovations to meet the couple’s specific needs.
Ari Rennert: Ira and Ingeborg Hanna Rennert have a son named Ari Rennert, who is an associate member of Rennert’s business empire. Ari is considered a potential successor to his father’s business endeavors.
As you wander through the halls of Fair Field, you can’t help but be awestruck by its grandeur. From its elegant design to meticulous attention to detail, every element has been carefully curated to create an ambiance of unrivaled luxury. It’s no wonder that Fair Field has earned its place as the largest house in the Hamptons and one of the most remarkable properties on Long Island.
In conclusion, the Fair Field mansion is a testament to the extraordinary vision and immense wealth of Ira Rennert. Its grandeur and opulence have made it a symbol of prestige and luxury, captivating the imagination of all who set foot inside. With its rich history, remarkable amenities, and stunning architecture, Fair Field stands as an icon of extravagant living in the Hamptons and beyond.
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Featured image source: BarneyFrank.net