Art Hamptons Edition

Inside the Compound Where Andy Warhol, Elizabeth Taylor, and Mick Jagger Spent Their Summers

Vincent-Fremont, Andy-Warhol, Dick-Cavett
Group photo with Vincent Fremont (on Dick Cavett’s lap) and Andy Warhol. All images courtesy of Vincent Fremont.

I've always loved hearing about Eothen, Andy Warhol’s Montauk compound where my father spent long nights partying and hosting weekend guests like Elizabeth Taylor, Lee Radziwill, Mick Jagger, and so many other icons. Where my parents were engaged and ultimately celebrated their elopement (following the surprise ceremony under a tree at the East Hampton courthouse). Where my infant sister slept on Halston’s bed while the night carried on.

As the onetime manager of Andy Warhol’s studio and cofounder of the Andy Warhol Foundation, my father dedicated his professional career, and really his life from age 18, to Andy Warhol, and Andy’s Montauk home was often my father’s responsibility. It’s clear that he’s still in awe of what he experienced during those summers. Despite all that has changed, the East End of Long Island continues to be a sanctuary for my father and so many people in the creative community. It’s still a place where no matter who you are, you can escape the expectations of the city and indulge in magical summer nights.

After years spent in Montauk, Shelter Island, and Southampton, we’re all grateful (most of all, my father) that my mother finally convinced him they should buy their own tiny Bridgehampton farmhouse 20 years ago. It’s easy to see how he changes when he gets to Long Island. It’s the only place he doesn’t wear his suit jacket, and occasionally on really hot days, he will even allow himself to wear shorts. He swims in the ocean almost every afternoon but never the pool, and he is always the first to refill a glass and the last to leave the porch, telling unbelievable stories—including those of his years spent in Montauk.

Casey Fremont: A father-daughter interview. This is so exciting! Let’s set the scene.

Vincent Fremont: It was 1971, and I think it was probably Paul [Morrissey] who pushed Andy to buy a place out in Long Island. Tina Fredericks, the art director who actually gave Andy his first job in the 1950s at Glamour in New York, was a real estate agent at that point. She took Andy and Paul out to Montauk to see this property called Eothen.

Casey: Paul and Andy bought it together?

Vincent: Paul and Andy were 50/50 partners. So the summer of ’72 was the first summer that all of us, meaning all of us at Andy’s studio and Paul, went out to Montauk. That first year Lee Radziwill rented the main house and then Andy and the rest of us stayed at the Boomhauer Cottage and the second cottage, which were adjacent to the main house, and that is when the magic started.

Casey: How was it decorated? Did Andy and Paul make any major renovations after they bought it?

Vincent: No, there were no renovations. We wanted to keep the original ambience of the houses—a cozy and comfortable, albeit masculine, summer fishing lodge, with stuffed striped bass on the walls and shelves full of old books on each side of the large fireplace. But when Halston rented the main house in 1977 or ’78, he insisted that we install a Vulcan professional stove in the kitchen, and he changed the decor of the house to a chinois style and had a mosquito-net cover installed over the bed in his bedroom.

Andy Warhol napping in the main house of Eothen.

Casey: Was the house rented often?

Vincent: Renting the main house helped defray the costs of running the compound. We, people like Andy’s boyfriend Jed Johnson, and Bob Colacello, stayed in the other two cottages. So did Tom Cashin and Jed’s brother Jay. Lee would have late-afternoon cocktail parties that summer, and she actually had a good French rosé, as opposed to the Portuguese Mateus rosé that was really sweet and that was all you usually could find. Truman Capote and Peter Beard were regular guests for cocktails. That’s when I first really got to know Peter. We had dinner parties at the two cottages for Andy and Fred’s guests. Lee had her own dinner parties that Andy, Jed, and Fred would be invited to join. She also gave Andy, as a birthday gift, the flagpole that remains to this day. We put up the flag every morning and brought it down every evening.

Casey: So was there more to the daily routine?

Vincent: When we were not renting the main house, I was shopping in town at the Amagansett farmers market for food to feed our weekend guests. The kitchen was a gathering place, and we all chipped in cooking and cleaning the dishes. When Lee rented the house, she had a maid and someone to cook. That was a different setup. I made sure the house was fully stocked with wine, champagne, vodka—all from White’s Liquor Store. We shopped at Herb’s Market and had charge accounts for both places. In the summer when we had no one renting, I organized the guest rooms and who would be sleeping in which bedroom, so I was very popular in the spring because I knew who was coming and decided who was going to sleep where.

Casey: Would you all eat together?

Vincent: Oh, yeah. It was a big eat-in kitchen. There was a living room area where we hosted dinner parties that was opposite the big overstuffed chairs and couch facing the fireplace. On any given weekend, no one knew who was going to be there, but there were always interesting and fascinating people.

Casey: Would people go swimming? Was it possible to swim there?

Vincent: Yes, in the 1970s there was a small sandy beach to the right of the main house. I used to surf off that beach with surfboards I always believed were left over from Andy and Paul’s film San Diego Surf. One true story: One summer, Fred Hughes came back from the beach, and Andy and I were in Boomhauer Cottage, and Fred said, “Oh, Andy, Dick Cavett is naked on the beach,” and we were, like, “Oh, not possible.” And this is the height of his stardom as a talk show host. So we went down to the beach toward the bluff where his house is. And there’s Dick Cavett wearing only a hat and a scarf and sandals. Totally naked.

Casey: Did you pretend you didn’t see?

Vincent: No, we all talked to him. Andy turned red.

Casey: Okay, next question. Did you ever leave the compound? Tell us a little more about what Montauk was like then.

Vincent: Well, Montauk in the early ’70s was still a sleepy fishing village. A few surfers and middle-class families vacationed there; there were cheap motels. No one wanted to go past Amagansett in those days, so you were kind of in your own world. No one came out there unless you were invited.

Casey: Wasn’t there one great story of Elizabeth Taylor going into town?

Vincent: Ah, the Elizabeth Taylor weekend.... Firooz Zahedi, who began his photography career taking photos for Interview magazine, arranged for Elizabeth to come out to Montauk. She arrived with her hairdresser, Arthur, and she had this tight t-shirt with "Botswana" written on the front, and she had this headlight-size diamond ring on her finger. Andy and Fred had to go to Paris for business, so I was the host taking care of the house. Halston had rented Peter Beard’s place up the road, and we all got together and went to Gosman’s. As we walked into the restaurant, Paul Simon was there, as were a couple other celebrities, but the whole restaurant turned around because it was Elizabeth Taylor. We took two tables, sat down, and I was sitting with Elizabeth, Halston, Firooz. Somehow the conversation changed to an affair she had, and she started crying and got really upset. Halston turned to me and said, “Do you have a car?” Our table stood up, headed to the parking lot—everyone was watching this—and my car is an Avis rent-a-car. So Elizabeth and Halston are in the back seat, and she was crying and speaking about Richard Burton. We drove to Peter’s property, and there were these chaise longues facing the ocean. And before everyone else followed us, I laid down in a chaise lounge next to Elizabeth, Halston, and Arthur, and we lit a joint and smoked and looked up at the sky. She calmed down then. And that was the beginning; the weekend was just like that. It was that intimate. She was actually on my Wiffle ball team that weekend, and we played against the production crew from [the film] Bad, and we won.

Vincent-Fremont, Elizabeth-Taylor
Vincent Fremont and Elizabeth Taylor. 

Casey: Even the biggest celebrities seemed to have this feeling of anonymity when they were in Montauk. Like they could almost blend in... There is a great story you have told my whole life about when the Kennedy kids visited.

Vincent: That old story. Okay, so that story would be in 1972 or 1973, when Jackie Onassis visited her sister. Lee had Anthony and Tina, her son and daughter, with her, and Jackie brought John Kennedy Jr., and Caroline. I was around 22 years old, and the kids saw the youngest person around, and they convinced me to take all four of them, in my little rent-a-car, into town to get ice cream. No one recognized who they were. They were delighted and hung out, had some ice cream, and then I got them all in the car and drove them back to the compound. Later in the day, Jackie asked if I would come to the main house. And that’s when she admonished me in a very sweet but firm way because what I did was a security breach. Meanwhile, I later learned the Secret Service had been following me the whole time.

Casey: I know everyone likes to think they knew Andy and can predict how he would react to things, which annoys you, but I feel like you’re one of the few who really did know him. So do you ever consider what Andy would think about Montauk now?

Vincent: I think he would accept it. He probably would still have the property.

Casey: Do you think that part of the magic, like you said, was it being so remote? Now Montauk feels so populated and so popular.

Vincent: Well, yeah. I mean, Andy and Peter were responsible for attracting other well-known people to buy homes in Montauk, like [Richard] Avedon and Paul Simon. Now it’s hipster land. There’s nothing wrong with that. I still think Montauk is wonderful, but it really has changed in that sense. Back in the ’70s, the local people didn’t really like people from Manhattan coming in, but the Eothen group was sort of accepted. We enjoyed it and were there all the time, dancing and doing tequila shots at Shagwong with the locals.

Casey: Do you have a favorite memory?

Vincent: All of my memories of Montauk are my favorite.

Vincent Fremont and his wife Shelly cutting their wedding cake at Eothen while Andy Warhol, Christopher Makos, Alan Kleinberg, and other friends capture the moment. 

Casey: Not like, maybe you and Shelly celebrating your wedding?

Vincent: Oh, yes, the elopement. We got married in East Hampton, and the party was at Andy’s house. We didn’t tell anybody, except I told my good friend Billy Copley to please wear a blazer that weekend. My best man was Robert Hayes. Shelly and I organized the whole thing down to ordering the cake. One of the many great things about that wedding day was that some of our friends were photographers—Christopher Makos, Alan Kleinberg, and Andy taking pictures—what a photo record!

Casey: Well, thankfully you have great photos and stories to tell your children! Thank you, Dad!