The House That Ate the Hamptons

Ira Rennert's Fair Field<a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ira_Rennert_house.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a>

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This weekend, Mitt Romney made a very profitable swing through the Hamptons. On the agenda: A trio of fundraisers, including a $50,000-a-head party at David Koch’s $18 million estate and a shindig at financier Ronald Perelman’s 57-acre estate, home to “the most outstanding private conifer collection in the United States.” But those spreads have nothing on billionaire Ira Rennert’s estate in Sagaponack (which, sadly for Romney, did not host a fundraiser). 

Thought to be America’s largest inhabited residence, Fair Field cost $100 million to build and is worth at least $200 million. The 110,000-square-foot complex has 29 bedrooms, 39 bathrooms, three pools, two libraries, a bowling alley, a playground, a full theater, its own power plant, and a garage for 100 cars. The main building is 66,000 square feet, 28 times bigger than the average new house. It’s the third-largest private home in America. (No. 1 is the 174,000- square-foot Biltmore Estate.) The mansion even inspired a novel, The House That Ate the Hamptons. Kurt Vonnegut called it “the greatest book ever written.” In a rare public appearance, Rennert described his mega-mansion as “old age and loneliness insurance.”

A local architect who approved the project praised its “restrained classic design.” Or, as one local put it to MoJo‘s Josh Harkinson, “It’s a fucking monster!” Fair Field is now at the heart of a new controversy between Rennert and his slightly less affluent neighbors, who have accused him of “practicing class warfare” with his noisy private helicopters. Seriously. Check it out.

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Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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