Fisher Island swanky playground to the likes of Andre Agassi, Mel Brooks, Julia Roberts, Boris Becker, Oprah, and other luminaries, the place proclaimed the richest ZIP Code in all the land by Forbes magazine, the shiny bauble that glitters like Oz to the south as you drive to Miami Beach on the MacArthur is finding out that life isnt always champagne wishes and caviar dreams.
In a 2,500-word takedown published a month ago, The New York Times shredded the sun-dappled, peacock-inhabited island, which has seen property values remain flat while the luxury condo prices market has heated up elsewhere.
Under the obligatory Paradise Lost headline, the travel story by Alessandra Stanley used phrases like alarmed by the prices no place to sit and have a glass of wine plastic forks, a plastic foam cup and paper napkins mistakenly overcharged almost $500, and: a class system that places short-term guests below the salt.
And so on.
The CEO of the private island named after the developer of Miami Beach, home to the famed Vanderbilt mansion, accessible only by boat was promptly shown the door.
If that wasnt galling enough, a disgruntled former denizen of the sunny enclave is now on the warpath. Hes infuriated that the Fisher Island club, which runs the golf course and the rentals everything that is not a private residence forced him to cancel a sumptuous Memorial Day party at the last minute, leaving his guests literally standing at the mainland ferry launch without a paddle.
That frustrated party thrower is Paul Pope Pope as in the son of the late Generoso Pope Jr., as in the man who turned the National Enquirer into the biggest-selling supermarket tabloid in the United States. It was sold after his death for more than $400 million.
Paul Pope, heir to that tabloid fortune, is about as unsubtle as the weekly papers red-meat content, stories with screaming headlines about celebrities with cellulite, politicos who cheat, and O.J. He penned a 396-page tome about his dad and granddad, The Deeds of My Fathers, subtitled How My Grandfather and Father Built New York and Created the Tabloid World of Today. He hands out not just the book, but a promotional DVD and branded totebag.
During his younger, fast-living days, Pope wasnt just part of the tabloid empire, but a source of gossip-page fodder.
Now Pope, who says the party fiasco cost him $50,000, is swinging haymakers at Fisher Island.
I would imagine the Vanderbilts are spinning in their graves at the steady decline of this once-magnificent, singularly spectacular resort, Pope sneered with typical grandiosity.
Pope didnt exactly utter those words. He handed out a three-page pamphlet of quotes and talking points, including the aforementioned witticism, and let the reporter graze at will.
Another Pope zinger: Ive been in jail, and being on Fisher Island over Memorial Day weekend was somehow worse even in prison youre allowed to have guests.
(Pope isnt kidding about the Ive-been-in-jail riff. He was busted in November 2007 on charges he roughed up his then-girlfriend, mother of one of his three children. The battery charge was later dropped).
Yes, parts of Fisher Island, which features a nine-hole course, more than a dozen tennis courts, two boat marinas and a tropical bird aviary, are messy right now. Thats apparently because the island is three years into a $60 million renovation plan, with signs of disarray everywhere. The main spa is closed for improvements and the Vanderbilt one of the most coveted wedding spots in town is an active construction site.