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Hamptons Life

Sep 12, 2018 1:17 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Elliott Erwitt Buys On East Hampton's N. Main Street

Elliott Erwitt at the Aperture Foundation in May. GONZALO MARROQUIN/PATRICKMCMULLAN.COM
Sep 12, 2018 1:17 PM

Not much is known about 17 North Main Street in East Hampton other than it is a house on 0.45 acre that was last sold in 1995 for $650,000, and was just purchased for $3.1 million. But we do know that the buyer is Elliott Erwitt, the world-renowned photographer who turned 90 in July.

Somehow, he has managed not to slow down during the last decade. He continues to travel the globe and doesn’t even want to stop for awards, like the Lifetime Achievement Infinity Award bestowed by the International Center of Photography. From his home and studio on Central Park West and one in the Springs section of East Hampton—it is not known if he is trading this in for the North Main Street location—Mr. Erwitt ventures forth to continue to capture the kind of iconic images that have highlighted a career that has lasted almost 70 years. Such images have allowed him to remain one of the top three sellers represented by the Magnum photo agency.

It all began in Paris. He was born there in 1928 to parents who had emigrated from Russia. Most of his first 10 years were spent in Italy, then in 1938 his parents returned to Paris. Their stay was short-lived, however, because his father was Jewish, and with the outbreak of World War II the following year and the approach of Hitler’s armies, leaving Europe seemed like a good idea. The family was able to sail to the United States, setting down in Los Angeles. Mr. Erwitt attended Hollywood High School and Los Angeles City College, and it was during these years that his infatuation with photography began. He headed to New York, where he took photography courses at the New School for Social Research. Further training was provided by the U.S. Army—he was drafted, and during his service he was a photographer’s assistant. Returning to civilian life in New York, Mr. Erwitt fell in with Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and other notable lensmen and began to be hired to do commercial photography projects as well as having his work appearing in Life, Look and other national publications.

As he became more successful—assignments ranged from “Mad Men”-like advertising campaigns to travel projects in far-flung locations to portraits of celebrities—Mr. Erwitt also found time to work on documentaries. Among them were such music-related fare as “Bob Dylan: No Direction Home” and two about the Rolling Stones, “Gimme Shelter” and “Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out.”

Like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Mr. Erwitt’s most famous photos are shots taken at what has been called the “decisive moment”—when something happened, someone was wearing a particular expression, or there was a humorous juxtaposition of people. A well-known example is the photo Mr. Erwitt took in 1959 during the “kitchen debate” between President of the USSR Nikita Krushchev and the U.S. vice president then, Richard Nixon.

Another interesting recent sale in the Village of East Hampton was 11 Jericho Lane, to Charles and Kristen Durkin for $6.35 million. The 5,000-square-foot residence on 0.92 acre south of the highway has five bedrooms and 5.5 baths. Located in the Georgica Estate section, it has been decorated by well-known interior designer Victoria Hagan and featured in multiple publications, including the cover of Elle Décor. The first floor includes a living room with fireplace, formal dining room, eat-in chef’s kitchen with fireplace, study, and a screened in porch as well as a junior master. On the second level, a master bedroom includes his-and-her closets, an oversized shower, and Jacuzzi tub. The surrounding grounds have a heated pool, pool cabana, lush gardens, and a waterfall.

One more in the village to mention is 52 Ruxton Road, picked up by Josef and Celia Najar for $6.25 million. On an ample 2.07 acres, also in the Georgica Estate section, the 4,119-square-foot home has four bedrooms and 4.5 baths. There is a formal dining room, large kitchen with adjacent octagonal breakfast room, living room with fireplace, and French doors leading to a covered porch. The master suite, on the second floor, has a private sitting room with fireplace and its own terrace overlooking the grounds. A heated pool and pool house with a full bath are sited in the completely private and expansive backyard. The detached three-car garage has a second floor for additional storage.

By the way, the new owners were married in East Hampton, and will celebrate their 13th anniversary this month. Her mother was president of Victoria’s Secret in Columbus, Ohio, and his father owned the Sabor restaurants in New York.

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