The Big Apple’s “deteriorating quality of life” was the talk of the town — the town of Southampton — among New York City’s wealthiest denizens during an East End charity event last weekend.
The auction to benefit Southampton Hospital in Stony Brook on Saturday brought out billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson, businessman and investor Howard Lorber, real estate developer David Levinson, supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis and former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Paulson, who has a home on the Upper East Side, lamented the lack of enforcement after witnessing his local drug store get ransacked by a shoplifter, according to Bloomberg.
He told the outlet he watched someone empty the shelves at the Duane Reade, fill a cart and walk out without paying, Paulson told the outlet.
“New York City is definitely deteriorating, the quality of life and the quality of services,” said Paulson, who made a fortune shorting the housing market before the subprime mortgage disaster in 2008.
The 67-year-old founder of Paulson & Co., with an estimated net worth of $3 billion, bought a home in Palm Beach in 2021 — joining thousands of New Yorkers who have bought a home in Florida since the pandemic.
Last year alone, some 65,000 people from New York State decamped to the Sunshine State, attracted by year-round warm weather, lower taxes, and relaxed COVID regulations.
Lorber, the chairman of Douglas Elliman Realty, told Bloomberg that he knows of some two dozen wealthy friends who have made Florida their legal residence, though they plan to keep a pied-à-terre .
“New York City is going to become the number one second-home market to the world,” he said.
Catsimatidis warned that more New York bluebloods will flee the city “if we don’t fix New York fast.”
“Friday night, we went out to dinner, and going home down Park Avenue not a light was on,” said Catsimatidis, who owns the Gristedes and D’Agostino’s supermarket chains.
“I can buy a new $100 million corporate jet and live in New York on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and pay no taxes and pay for the jet that way.”
Ross, who built his wealth by acquiring failed companies and then selling them for a profit after restructuring them, told Bloomberg: “New York needs new management.”
Not everyone at the auction, which raised more than $2 million, was ready to give up on the city.
“To those who say New York is not the same, my response is, ‘When has New York ever been the same?’ I’m still mourning the closing of Maxwell’s Plum,” said Simone Levinson, the wife of real estate developer David Levinson, referring to the famed Upper East bar owned by Warner Leroy. It closed in 1988.
“There’s this infectious energy in the city that’s unmatched.”