Palm Beach’s old guard annoyed by ‘invading Barbies’

Palm Beach's old guard annoyed by 'invading Barbies'

Barbie’s getting snubbed in Palm Beach, too.

“Old Palm Beachers snicker as they watch women new to the scene arrive in pink, yes, pink, Rolls-Royces, like a battalion of invading Barbies—a shocking display in a town accustomed to understated wealth,” journalist Daisy Prince wrote last month in a Vanity Fair piece exploring Palm Beach’s “identity crisis” amid the escalating tensions between old and new money.

New Yorkers and other snowbirds quickly decamped to ritzy Palm Beach during the COVID-19 pandemic as they sought sunshine, lower taxes, and freedom from burdensome restrictions. One realtor noted in 2020 that the median age was “dropping faster than SpaghettiOs from a toddler’s highchair” as the tropical paradise transformed into the “Hamptons of the South.”

Now, the wealthy, insular enclave is feeling growing pains as newcomers from the north contribute to traffic congestion and seize coveted spots in elite private schools, upending the old guard as they stress other resources.

“This new migration has brought its share of horror stories—of newcomers poaching nannies, snapping up tee times and cosmetic surgery appointments, and emitting an overall tenor of rudeness and ruthlessness,” Prince shared.

Palm Beach County — which comprises 39 municipalities, including Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton and Delray Beach — saw its population balloon from 1.49 million residents in 2020 to an estimated 1.51 million in 2022, according to Census numbers.

Palm trees overlook the beach shore of Palm Beach in July 2021. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Billionaire hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin and Fox News host Sean Hannity, who shelled out for a two-level townhome near former President Donald Trump, are among the new arrivals.

A real estate entrepreneur told the Palm Beach Daily News in 2022 that the entry point for a Palm Beach home hovers around $10 million, with young families paying closer to $15 million.

Shannon Donnelly, a legendary society columnist for the Palm Beach Daily News, told The Post it’s easy to spot the johnny-come-latelies.

“These hedge fund guys were at the post office during the day wearing Gucci belts. One was driving a Maybach and the other a Bentley,” she sighed to The Post last year. “I didn’t even have to look to know the license plates were from New York. Men [who are old-money Palm Beach] tend to dress like they just got off the golf course. Big cars and good jewelry should stay home during the day.”

Worth Avenue, one of the premier upscale shopping streets in the world, is photographed in 2017. Universal Images Group via Getty Images
The Everglades Club is a pre-eminent social club in Palm Beach. Felix Mizioznikov –

Indeed, some of these interlopers are shunning storied traditions such as wearing tuxedos at dinner in favor of sequins and flash, per Vanity Fair, with Palm Beach area businesses adapting to the changing tides.

The historic Colony Palm Beach Hotel, for one, underwent a massive renovation.

“Gone is the jacket and tie requirement for dinner, and at the verdant restaurant veranda by the pool, you’re just as likely to see a patron in Lululemon at breakfast as you would in linen,” the Daily Beast penned in late 2022.

The Carriage House, a private supper club that boasts an initiation fee of $250,000 to enjoy its Mediterranean and Japanese cuisine, opened that same year.

“It looks so phony, like it was made for Instagram,” one frequent guest griped to Vanity Fair.

A shopping street in West Palm Beach is shown. Shutterstock

This luxury influx is spilling over into nearby West Palm Beach, which is attracting out-of-staters and Palm Beach residents who perhaps previously turned their noses up at crossing the Intracoastal Waterway.

The Palm Beach Post reported this month that several private clubs are in the works or have opened in recent months in West Palm Beach, including the Cove Club, in December. Membership costs around $15,000 a year.

“This is not your traditional club. We want to have a youthful vibe,” the Cove Club operator told the Post. “Come by boat and dock and have a fun day.”

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