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Say Goodbye To Dragon Head, Say Hello To Calvin’s New Beach House

Originally Posted: May 20, 2009

Andrea Aurichio

  |   20 Comments · Print Article

SLAYING THE DRAGON: The mansion, as significant as it has been all these years, was not deemed historically significant or architecturally relevant by the Architectural Review Board (ARB) in Southampton earlier this year. Photos by Andrea Aurichio

Southampton - It was quiet on Meadow Lane except for the occasional banging of a hammer in the distance and the song of a red wing blackbird about to take flight near the shores of the Atlantic. History was being made in the midst of this tranquility as a small crew of workmen began dismantling Dragon Head. Soon Calvin Klein's 50,000 square foot mansion set on a beautiful ocean bluff will be no more as it is gently razed to make way for a new, much smaller, 17,000 square foot, streamlined beach house.

Soon to be the house where Calvin lives.

Very Calvin, clear, spare, modern and, of course, chic and green. The new Southampton home, symbolized by Klein's cutting edge design that has shaped the American fashion industry for more than a quarter of a century, will take hold as a storied historic manse is erased from the landscape where it has amused and amazed since before Calvin became famous for his jeans.

The mansion, as significant as it has been all these years, was not deemed historically significant or architecturally relevant by the Architectural Review Board (ARB) in Southampton earlier this year when they approved Klein's plans to demolish the old house and replace it with a new one, due to the myriad of alterations to the interior over the years.

Klein's building permit was displayed prominently at the service entrance on the eastern portion of the oceanfront estate on Wednesday afternoon where the parking area was filled with pick-up trucks and heavy equipment. Hay bales lined both sides of the road mindful of the work in progress at an ecologically fragile waterfront location. Klein's property totals 11 acres in all, and includes parcels on both sides of Meadow Lane, providing its high profile owner with direct access to the bay as well as a magnificent ocean beach. Dragon Head was the largest private home in the Hamptons for decades until Sagaponack resident Ira Rennart built a house more than twice its size on oceanfront property more than a decade ago.

The Chesterson Estate during the DuPont days.

A few residents drove by quietly in a Mercedes convertible coupe with the top down to take advantage of the exemplary day as well as maximize their view of the subdued demo in progress as they waved and pointed. Klein's architect, Michael Haverland, was on site supervising the workers. A silver Porche was parked at the property's western gate. Red wing black birds flitted about on the trees in front of the Klein property.

No one was available for comment as work progressed quietly at 4:30 p.m. Early reports of the work underway began circulating on Wednesday morning when members of the real estate community began emailing one another. "Dragon Head is being demolished right now" one observer emailed to her colleagues, "history is being made."

Dragon Head had several owners before Klein purchased the property in 2003 for $28.9 million. It was a bargain in its day since the house had been listed for sale with no takers at $45 million by its previous owner, Francesco Galesi, who put it on the market in 2000. Galesi purchased the house from Barry Trupin for $2.3 million in 1993.

A bird's eye view of the massive estate in its heyday as Elysium. Image courtesy of Sotheby's

When Klein purchased Dragon Head, the house resembled a castle by the sea, having undergone substantial renovations and alternations by a cast of previous owners, including one who installed a turret for special effect. Originally the property was developed by the DuPont family in the 1920s when they built a traditional seaside manse on the ocean. The stately home was originally dubbed the Chesterson Estate and later Elysium.

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Guest (Albert Loftus) from Dallas, Texas says::
I was Barry & Rene Trupin's chauffeur in the early 1980's. Dragonshead was their dream. They lived two houses away at Ocean Castle during the construction. Barry is dead now, Rene is living with another rich man, and I don't miss the Hamptons. Barry had beautiful cars. Seven classic Rolls Royces, including three 1956 Silver Wraiths. We used a stretch Lincoln limousine as the utility car. It was a lot of fun -- the Mansion on 96 St, the yacht; Barry wanted a submarine and a small country where he could do his own financing. And Rothschild Reserves International -- lots of people gave their money to build that castle.
Jul 23, 2013 5:35 pm

Guest (esme') from sag harbor says::
It would appear that we have lost our sense of what is valuable. As long as the dollar is available anything is for sales. Southampton is no different that the bankers that have come up with schemes to distroy the dream. A historic structure such as Dragonhead could teach us something about human nature and loss of values. We need to stop distroying and begin really conserving our past. If you do not remember your past, you are not a full human. We need reminders of our past beautiful things as well as what we consider ugly.
Dec 20, 2011 11:07 am

Guest (Guest) from Hamptons says::
I remeber this house when it was being built. At that time I was younger and the thought of a saltwater pool on the property was amazing to me. I got to see the aqurium, and sit in the basement window and watch all the sharks and fish go by. What a pleasure and an honor to be able to have done that. I remember walking around the house and seeing all the rooms that were not completed yet. I take pride in the fact that I was able to see this golorious house. Over the top? Yes. But don't we all need something over the top to look at every once in a while?
Nov 23, 2010 3:08 pm


SG says::
This just goes to show you that the hollywood effect is in full force everywhere you go. paying some 20 odd million for a home only to tear it down and spend another 40 million at a cost of probably close to 60 million when finished not to mention the party for all the liberal media. I saw the home when Francesco owned it, a very nice man, I thought the home was incredible inside. It had a larger than full size leather horse in one of it's salons and a real Grotto that was fed by the ocean and I believe he had sea world come and take care of it. This is just a reminder to all of us when you buy something you are paving Calvin Klein's way not yours. Nothing wrong with nice things but when you buy something that expensive and tear it down just to build something else that's called arrogance and thumbing it in your face saying see what my money can buy. Just look at our government past and present the reward is for the corrupt not that Calvin is corrupt but they all follow and live in that corrupt society and will do what ever it takes to keep that lifestyle. Just look at the Wall streeters that pilfered main street trashing companies and receiving 160MM dollar paydays then leaving. I think everyone should be allowed to make money but when you make money and lay off 3000 jobs for your payday shame on you. Or when you take our jobs and go overseas to pilfer another country's working class to line your greedy pockets.
Aug 6, 2010 1:16 pm

Guest (darren) from san francisco, ca says::
I'm a committed preservationist, but I know this place from summers out in East Hampton, and anything historic or tasteful was long ago wiped out prior to Mr. Klien's purchace of the property. Notable, yes. But for being tacky, misused, over-the-top, over sized, and tasteless. Good ridance!
Jan 22, 2010 9:14 pm

Guest (penny) from patchogue says::
Dragons head has been knocked down,when is the new Calvin klein house being built? We saw a building go up then it was knocked down whats going on .
Jan 11, 2010 8:35 pm

Guest (stephanie) from smyrna, de says::
why did he not just sell it and buy an open piece of land to develop. What a loss.
Sep 12, 2009 1:37 pm

Guest (Brian) from Liverpool, NY says::
I had the pleasure of being in the house and being involved with the aquarium when I was a student at Southampton College. I am sad to see it go, for me and for many that place stood as a symbol of Southampton.
Jul 30, 2009 6:52 am

Guest (Isidoros G Michalos) from Sag Harbor says::
I had the pleasure of being shown the interior of Dragonhead when Mr. Trupin had it for sale. In my opinion this was a great one of a kind house. I had a lot of respect for it and I loved it. I'm sorry I did not buy it. At least I would have preserved it for future generations. Why do people hate it? It's a part of the Hamptons history. Anyway, money talks and Calvin's shoe box will be built for all to admire.
Jul 28, 2009 7:16 pm

Guest (Richard L Offitto) from Farmingville NY says::
Having personally manage, directed and supervise all construction activities at Calvin's personal residence in NYC I can firmly attest that his vision is unlike anything you could have ever imagined. Be completely confident that when Calvin's vision is executed this parcel of land will be graced with one of the most exciting designs ever to be witnessed. Calvin holds a vision that is far beyond our time. There is nothing negative about a renovation that is so pure in creativity. When you have an understanding of how Calvin directs design you will become as confident as me. This is a project that anyone in the Design and Construction industry would be honored to be associated with.
Jun 10, 2009 9:35 am

Guest (... nothing u need to know ) from manorville,ny says::
i really think the castle was orignal but i am up set tht he is re modeling. btw wut happend to samuel VI the recent owner
Jun 7, 2009 4:38 pm

Guest (Dave) from Washington DC says::
What happened to John Samuels IV, a previous owner of CK's manse?
May 28, 2009 11:35 pm

Guest (Ann) from Far Away says::
They should not have allowed the remodel that turned a lovely home into "Dragon Head" in the first place. Klein is doing everyone a favor by removing the monstrosity.
May 25, 2009 4:23 pm

Guest (greenlocal) from southampton says::
What is energy efficient about tearing down and putting in a dumpster something that is existing and functional? the state of demolition as viewed from the road is a travesty. How in this day and age can any architect or client with a conscience let such this type of destruction occur? There is no sign of salvaging or recycling materials at all. Demolition is a fact of life out here, but it should be done with a proper waste management plan. So much for the environment.
May 24, 2009 11:26 am

Guest (who cares) from southampton says::
who cares what calvin klein does or where he lives. everyone needs to get a life!
May 23, 2009 7:30 pm

Guest (cathy) from southampton says::
Is anything from this demolition being reused or recycled??
May 23, 2009 9:46 am

Guest (been there....) from water mill says::
what is so historically significant about this? it is a monument to the glut of the '90's, and lost all it's historic value after Trupin "renovated". One of the highlights of Meadow Lane? all a matter of taste...
May 22, 2009 7:19 pm

Guest (Neil) from Sag Harbor says::
What will they say 100 years from now when they want to tear down these "new" so called energy efficient homes???? AND, replacing them with "new" truly energy efficent and environmentally friendly homes that use no fosil fuel at all????? TIME MARCHES ON...
May 22, 2009 6:06 pm

Guest (Elaine) from Bolivar says::
My sentiments exactly. Money was talking and the ARB was listening!
May 22, 2009 8:36 am

Guest (SHLocal) from Southampton says::
It is ashame that this mansion is being knocked down. It is sad how so many people come to our town and are willing to ruin something significant just so they can have something better. This house was certainly historically significant and shame on the ARB for letting them knock it down. This mansion was one of the biggest highlghts of Meadow Lane. Now we get to see some brand new house just so Calvin can enjoy his "summer" home which I'm sure he will not use very much. Sorry Southampton, but there goes history. Its a damn shame!
May 22, 2009 2:24 am


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