In the most extended bull market ever, a new trend has emerged in the Hamptons, a luxury Long Island playground for millionaires and billionaires, which involves the ultra-wealthy installing panic rooms packed with guns for the next apocalypse, according to a New York Post report Saturday.
“I sleep with a gun underneath my pillow: a Walther PPK/S, the same one James Bond carried,” said John Catsimatidis, owner of Red Apple Group and Gristedes Foods, who has a vacation property in East Quogue. “[My wife] Margo prefers a shotgun. Although, once, she thought she heard something, got the shotgun out and shot through the door.”
The Post said the billionaire and his family, like many others in the Hamptons, are terrified over new concerns that MS-13 has a growing presence in the area.
In April, the vicious Salvadorian gang murdered four men behind a sports field in Central Islip. Over the summer, a Hampton Bays brothel raided by local police found MS-13 insignia. And in 2016, the Post notes, a man with MS-13 affiliation broke into an upscale Southampton home and sexually assaulted a woman.
As authorities crack down on gang strongholds in western Suffolk County, Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skryneck warned that ongoing police raids would push gangs, and violence into his jurisdiction [Southampton].
Chief Skrynecki, who took command earlier this year told residents attending August’s Hampton Bays Beautification Association meeting that his officers are seeing signs of the gang in Southampton.
One Southampton millionaire, who requested to remain anonymous for security reasons, told the Post that she recently had a security company install bulletproof glass and high-tech surveillance cameras throughout the estate.
“MS-13 is in Suffolk County,” she said. “What’s an hour car ride? They are near.”
The anonymous millionaire is not alone. “The home-security business is very event- and news-driven,” said Gary Blum, president of Armored Entry, a company that installs bullet-proof, super-secure windows and doors. “We get business when there is a tremendous amount of fear being generated.”
Blum told the Post his bulletproof windows are not cheap, starting at $6,000 per window, “you can beat it with a sledgehammer without making a dent.”
Chris Cosban, and his company Covert Interiors, has seen demand soar in the Hamptons for panic rooms ranging from $25,000 to $200,000. “The big thing [with homeowners] in the Hamptons is that if somebody has it, they all want it,” said Cosban. “There is a wow factor … They like to brag about it.”
Herman Weisberg, managing director of the personal-security firm Sage Intelligence Group, told the Post that his Hamptons clients want their panic rooms to double as home theaters, home offices, wine cellars or even gun vaults where assault rifles and shotguns can be stored.
“People used to open up their garages and show off their Lamborghinis,” Weisberg said. “Now they take guests to the wine bar in their safe room.”
Catsimatidis, who also had his home broken into, worries about the MS-13 threat, has installed infrared sensors at his place. But, the paranoia of social destabilization is not just with the billionaires and millionaires on the East Coast, Al Corbi, president of SAFE (Strategically Armored & Fortified Environments), an architecture-focused security firm, just “finished a system for $100 million” with a panic room on the West Coast. “That sounds like a lot but there is nothing I know of, human or manmade, that could possibly harm this family for three generations, including global nuclear holocaust, a pandemic or a second Ice Age,” he said, adding that, “it is like a Ritz-Carlton underground.”
Some residents in the Hamptons told the Post that some of their neighbors have entirely gone overboard fortifying their estates for the apocaplyse. “In the Hamptons, it’s hard to know if someone is an oligarch and lots of security makes sense, or if somebody is just paranoid,” said one East Hampton resident who wished to remain anonymous.
So, could this new panic room craze in the Hamptons be a reactionary response to the MS-13 threat, or is it that the ultra-wealthy have too much excess liquidity?