The House That Ate the Hamptons

| Mon Jul. 9, 2012 6:00 AM EDT

Ira Rennert's Fair Field

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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