Millard Â“MickeyÂ” Drexler, chief executive officer of J. Crew Group, has bought The Deep Hollow Ranch for $11.4 million. The Ranch which is said to be the oldest cattle ranch in the country consists of 17.8 acres of Montauk pastureland.Â The Prudential Douglas Elliman real estate group brokered the deal.
The East Hampton Star reported the sale earlier yesterday stating that in 2006 Mr. Drexler paid $27 million for Eothen, the oceanfront estate of Andy Warhol, formerly called the Church estate, which adjoins the Deep Hollow Ranch and its pastureland, known as Indian Field. Gardner Leaver and his wife, Diane, have owned the property since 1971. It was owned and worked as a ranch by Ms. LeaverÂ’s family for decades before that.
Mr. Drexler is partial to the East End of the South Fork. He owns houses on Sagg Pond in Sagaponack, and on the ocean in Wainscott.
Mr. Leaver, who is known as Rusty, confirmed the sale on Friday but not the sale price. Â“WeÂ’re happy we managed to make a unique deal with Mr. Drexler. It was a good personal negotiation. His interest seemed to be acquiring, and, to a degree, maintaining whatÂ’s there. At this point, it will be operations as usual, some cattle, no noticeable changes,Â” Mr. Leaver said. He confirmed published reports that his family would be able to live in the house at Deep Hollow and work the ranch for at least five years.
Mr. Leaver said the sale would not affect operations at the Deep Hollow livery stables on county parkland across Montauk Highway, which the Leavers have operated under contract with the county for many years.
In the 1980s, the Leavers worked with the Town of East Hampton to create an open-space subdivision that permitted them to sell several building lots on the ranchÂ’s east side, but preserve the ranch itself. In recent years, a feud developed between the Leavers and their neighbors over the use of a conservation easement. Last year, the Leavers offered to sell the land to the town to be preserved with its present use and accessible to the public.
In addition to raising cutting horses and cattle, the ranch became known for the benefit concerts Mr. Leaver promoted in the 1990s. The outdoor concerts, featuring artists including Jimmy Buffett, James Brown, Ray Charles, James Taylor, and Billy Joel, drew thousands to Montauk and raised money for the Montauk Historical Society and other South Fork charities.
In 1898, the Army took over Montauk to quarantine over 30,000 soldiers, including Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders on their return from Cuba at the end of the Spanish-American War. To celebrate the centennial anniversary, Mr. Leaver invited hundreds of cavalry re-enactors to the ranch, staged plays based on Â“Bully,Â” a compilation of newspaper stories about Montauk and the encampment from that era, and threw in a Wild West show.
Â“WeÂ’ve worked hard to preserve the ranch,Â” Mr. Leaver said. Â“Mr. Drexler is very sensitive to its importance to the community.Â”