A few days ago, it was reported that Calvin Klein had sold his estate in the Hamptons for $85 million. Which was, for anyone who had a passing familiarity with the fashion designer’s public life, cause for a double take, because last summer Klein sold another Hamptons house for $85 million. Klein is, famously, a bit of a real-estate fanatic — before he bought a triplex penthouse in one of the Richard Meier buildings on Perry Street, he took the architect up in a helicopter to hover at the exact spot where his apartment would be built so he could check out the views, according to Vanity Fair — but owning, and then selling, two $85 million estates seems like a bit much.
Then again, Klein has never held back when it comes to his real estate. The Southampton estate that Klein sold to billionaire Ken Griffin last year was a minimalist palace that he built to replace the maximalist one that was on the ten-acre oceanfront property when he bought it in 2003. Klein did a gut renovation of the existing house and, unsatisfied with the result, tore it down and started over. “He talks about the house nonstop,” the New York Times reported in 2013, when Klein was putting the finishing touches on the place. “He has personally vetted and approved every floorboard and object inside, even designed much of the furniture himself when he thought there was nothing out there that quite met his exacting design standards.” Even Peggy Siegal, the once-ubiquitous celebrity publicist, admitted to biking past to get a glimpse. Unlike most Hamptons estates, Klein’s did not have a hedge. That would have ruined the aesthetic.
Klein was so exacting that he built a life-size mock-up of the house in plywood before construction started, according to the Times — a project so substantial that it required its own building permit and cost approximately $350,000. When completed, the actual home had all the Klein hallmarks: a screening room, a water element (in this case, an infinity pool), an uncluttered minimalist aesthetic, and, crucially, “white couch after white couch.”
He was no less fastidious when it came to his other properties. In the West Village, Klein hired British minimalist architect John Pawson to do the interiors of his triplex, for which he’d paid $14 million in the early aughts (a discounted price, because the developers were reportedly keen to have him in the building; Nicole Kidman also got a price cut). Klein had Pawson construct life-size models of the interiors “in muslin stretched over two-by-four planks of wood … every countertop, every chair, every light fixture, even a bed,” according to Vanity Fair. It was the first apartment Klein had owned in the city since he sold his penthouse at 55 Central Park West in 1999. The intervening years he’d spent in rentals (honestly, kind of hard to imagine). He was so obsessed with the 55 Central Park West penthouse that he bought it twice, first in the early ’80s, when he painted it bone-white and installed an illegal hot tub on the terrace, then again in the 1990s, when he purchased it along with a neighboring unit. Here, too, he tore down all but the supporting walls and “had a lavish mock-up built — actual temporary rooms framed out in two-by-fours with ‘walls’ of white paper,” according to New York. “Reflective foil indicated where mirrored surfaces would go.” Apparently unsatisfied with all the possibilities, he sold it again.
Klein’s other real-estate holdings have included a Miami Beach house that he owned for about a decade and “extensively renovated” with, yes, an “all-white color palette,” as well as an infinity pool and waterfront views. It sold for $13 million in 2017. He also owns a similarly fitted-out $25 million house in Los Angeles, bought brand-new in 2015. “It doesn’t need a lot of renovation,” Klein said when he bought it. Of course, he was still planning to make some changes.
As for the second Hamptons estate? Everyone thought the historic shingle-style mansion in East Hampton belonged to Klein’s ex-wife, Kelly. It had her initials “K.K.” on the front gate. But although Kelly, a society photographer, had lived there for about 15 years after the couple’s divorce was finalized, the deed was still in Calvin’s name. He also owned the parcel next door with his daughter from an earlier marriage, which together sold for $85 million. This spring, Kelly Klein, who shares her ex husband’s fondness for white couches and construction projects, bought a $16 million fishing cottage on 1.69 acres in North Haven. “Love my new project! Bayside living! Can’t wait to show you when I’m done,” she wrote in an Instagram post in June.