Addressing the Group for the East End benefit Saturday night in Sagaponack, Long Island, Alec Baldwin implored Group President Robert DeLuca to expand the scope of the Hamptons environmental nonprofit to the Greenwich Village block where the actor lives and is attended by paparazzi.
“Only Bob DeLuca can come in and clean up the infestation,” joked Baldwin, who had an altercation with a Daily News photographer on a Manhattan sidewalk days earlier.
The 54-year-old then needled the Group about its elevated nesting platforms on poles for ospreys, the once-endangered fish hawks that fly above area coastlines.
“God knows I need Bob DeLuca to shut up about these osprey poles,” said Baldwin, who has a house in Amagansett, two towns east. Within seconds, Baldwin raised about $34,000 to build new osprey poles as 17 people raised their hands to contribute $1,000 each and Baldwin said he’d match every dollar.
Under flowing white tents at the Wolffer Estate, a vineyard and stable, the evening grossed about $550,000 for the 40-year- old advocacy and educational organization. Baldwin attended with his fiancée, yoga teacher Hilaria Thomas, wearing a bright coral cocktail dress; and his 16-year-old daughter, Ireland, in a Grecian floor-length strapless outfit.
Amid two auctions -- silent and live -- and dinner with roast pepper-crusted beef or lobster cake options, guests said their support was motivated by a desire to improve water quality and community planning, preserve natural habitats and open spaces, or all of the above.
“Overdevelopment causes all the other problems,” said fashion designer Nicole Miller, a Group patron for 16 years, with her husband, Kim Taipale, a founding partner of the technology merchant-banking firm Parkview TMB.
Between courses, auctioneer George McNeely of Christie’s offered a Jackson Hole, Wyoming, “eco-adventure,” a week in a St. Martin villa and two days on a 156-foot yacht sailing from Newport, Rhode Island.
“When they put a parking lot next to your home, don’t blame me,” he shouted to one tepid bidder.
Paul McDowell, chief executive officer of CapLease Inc., (LSE) a real estate investment trust, and his wife, Susan, a potter, paid $6,000 for “farm-to-table wine-tasting dinner for eight,” valued at $5,000.
They sat with neighbors from Shelter Island, Marco Birch, a portfolio manager at Moore Capital Management, and his wife, Katherine Leahy Birch, both of whom are on the Group’s board.
Marco Birch called Shelter Island, accessible via ferry, “New England-y.”
“When you’re at a dinner party, you’re as likely to sit next to a ferry captain as someone who works on Wall Street,” he said. “It’s a very grass-roots community.”
Birch said that DeLuca “focuses on saving us from ourselves.
“He’s trying to prevent people from poisoning their own land,” he said.
As for water, DeLuca said in an interview that while water in the Hamptons is safe to drink, it contains excessive nitrogen that “over-fertilizes” the area’s bays.
“Fish, shellfish and the marine ecosystem have much lower tolerance for nitrogen,” he said. “Boating and fishing require clean water.”
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