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Ozymandias Watch: Southampton Edition

April 18, 2013

If you are a billionaire Master Of The Universe of course you believe you can hold back the sea:

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — Soon after Hurricane Sandy hit last fall, Joshua Harris, a billionaire hedge fund founder and an owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, began to fear that his $25 million home on the water here might fall victim to the next major storm. So he installed a costly defense against incoming waves: a shield of large metal plates on the beach, camouflaged by sand.

His neighbor, Mark Rachesky, another billionaire hedge fund founder, put up similar fortifications between his home and the surf. Chris Shumway, who closed his $8 billion hedge fund two years ago, trucked in boulders the size of Volkswagens.

Across a section of this wealthy town, some residents, accustomed to having their way in the business world, are now trying to hold back the ocean.

But the flurry of construction on beachfront residences since the hurricane is touching off bitter disputes over the environment, real estate and class.

Some local officials said they were worried that the owners were engaging in an arms race with nature, installing higher and higher barricades that could rapidly hasten erosion — essentially sacrificing public beaches to save private homes.

Good luck, fellas.

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