Are the Clintons coming to Watch Hill?

I wish I had a couple of bucks for each of the many unfounded rumors I have heard over the years about celebrities buying real estate around here, especially in expensive enclaves like Watch Hill.

I could have picked up more than a few bar tabs over the years with money I might have collected for untrue rumors that Tom Brady, for instance, was buying a house here.

By the time Taylor Swift emerged as our own local pop star, owner of a fabulous oceanfront mansion in Watch Hill, it was well beyond the rumor stage.

When word finally got out, the deed was filed. Rent-a-cop security guards already were stationed in the driveway of her new mansion.

Still, I couldn't resist the temptation this week to check out the rumors that not just Bill and Hillary Clinton, but also daughter Chelsea Clinton, had bought expensive Watch Hill real estate.

Never mind that a spokesman for the Clintons pretty categorically denies this, saying they like Watch Hill but have bought no real estate.

And yet the people pushing the rumor tell it with such gusto and conviction, it's hard to resist.

"I know exactly what's going on," one person told me, reporting from a source who was "in the room" when the Clinton Watch Hill deal went down.

And yet I see no evidence of it.

Could there be some unfiled agreement in someone's back pocket, a deal in the works? Sure. But I doubt it.

I am going to cite here my best debunker of the Clinton-buying-in-Watch-Hill rumor.

I met Geb Masterson of Lila Delman Real Estate after literally blowing into his office on Watch Hill's Bay Street on Monday afternoon. Whitecaps from the harbor, whipped up by the blustery February winds, literally were washing on to the street out front.

It wasn't the kind of day you imagine casual summer strolls to the beach.

Masterson, when I asked about the Clinton rumors, said they are indeed all over town. But the Realtors, he said, don't see any substance, keeping track, as they tend to, of all transactions in town.

Indeed, the most persistent Bill and Hillary rumors focus on an oceanfront property where work is underway on a new mansion.

But when you look into the transactions, it seems that house has been owned by the same people, money managers from Darien, since 2012, when they bought it for $12 million.

They recently tore down the old house, a beloved Watch Hill landmark, and have filed permits with the town, under their own names, for a $3 million replacement mansion.

It's hard to imagine these people, one a prominent conservative, fronting for the Clintons.

Another recent sale in Watch Hill was on the main road, just $1.6 million, and bought by an LLC with the same name as a technology company recently purchased by Apple.

No sign of the Clintons in that transaction.

The Clintons must like Watch Hill. They spent a few days at the Ocean House after the fall election, apparently licking wounds.

Bill Clinton told someone he met at the Savoy Bookshop in Westerly then that the family was looking for a place to get away from things.

Hard to blame them. And hard to think of a more calming place to get away than in the cosseted pleasures of the Ocean House.

But that doesn't mean they are buying real estate.

Sometimes, a getaway is just a getaway.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

d.collins@theday.com

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