On tony Nantucket these days, even the water costs a fortune.
A rare deepwater dock in the island town’s quaint harbor sold last month for $4.75 million, to an entity with ties to Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google parent company Alphabet, and his wife Wendy, a prominent Nantucket philanthropist.
That may seem like a lot for a place to park a boat. But this is Nantucket, a beloved seaside town that has increasingly become a summer haven for the very rich.
And it’s one of just three deepwater slips in the harbor, at the edge of a picture-postcard old whaling wharf. It’s long enough to dock a 156-foot yacht. It even comes with a parking space.
“You can see how demand would be quite high,” said Jen Shalley, an agent with Nantucket-based Fisher Real Estate who brokered the deal. “It’s such a rarity. There were multiple interested parties.”
Shalley wouldn’t name the buyer, but it appears to be the Schmidts, whom Forbes magazine estimates are worth $10.6 billion.
Nantucket County property records show a 99-year lease on the dock was signed last month by a holding company that lists the Schmidt’s family investment office in Palo Alto, Calif., as its manager. A spokesman declined comment.
Another officer in the holding company is Melissa Philbrick, executive director of ReMain Nantucket, a nonprofit Wendy Schmidt founded to help preserve the historic downtown. Philbrick said the dock was bought for private use, not for ReMain, but declined to comment further on Schmidt’s plans.
Since first buying a house on Nantucket in 1999, Wendy Schmidt has taken an increasingly prominent role in island life. She launched ReMain in 2007, and has spent millions to buy properties, including a popular bookstore that was in danger of closing. She led efforts to save the island’s theater and launched a culinary center last year.
She and her husband have also financed a variety of environmental and oceanographic research projects, including a massive vessel – the Falkor – that has partnered with marine researchers based in Woods Hole. And in recent years, after spending summers on Nantucket, Wendy Schmidt has become an avid sailor in her own right, even racing boats and designing “Elfjie,” a 152-foot luxury yacht built by Dutch boat maker Royal Huisman.
Schmidt would sometimes dock her boats on Old North Wharf, under a lease agreement with its prior owner, according to people familiar with the harbor. Then the opportunity came up to purchase it.
The property was marketed quietly, Shalley said, with several interested buyers, though no bidding war broke out. As for the price, Shalley notes that the last deepwater slip to sell in Nantucket Harbor fetched $2.1 million in 2002.
“If you look at what has happened in the broad market for Nantucket real estate since then, prices have about doubled,” Shalley said.
Comparisons for similar docks are hard to come by, because there aren’t many like it. Large docks listed for sale elsewhere in country can go for several million dollars, but they typically have a large, luxurious, house attached to them. In January in Provincetown, an entire 1,027-foot pier, with 50 boat slips, sold for $3.5 million to Boston-area waterfront developer Chuck LaGasse, who plans to expand it.
This dock had been owned by Nantucket’s Sanford family for generations. Owner Alfred Sanford, a longtime boatmaker himself, did not return messages seeking comment this week. His brother Edward, who said he sold his own interest in the site at least a decade ago and wasn’t party to this sale, said it has largely been leased out to yachts in recent years.
As for the price, Edward is a real estate agent, and he knows what people will pay for a rare slice of the treasured island.
“There’s just nothing like it,” he said. “And Nantucket is Nantucket.”