• Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Ordinarily, when Suffolk County, New York, takes over a small piece of land for back taxes, they like to sell it off cheap. As in, maybe ten bucks. But when the little piece of land is a path that leads to a beach in the Hamptons … well, things may take a different course, reports Newsday ("Bidder buys 1-foot-wide strip of Napeague land for $120,000," by Mitchell Freedman).

Reports Newsday: "The battle royale began after Suffolk -- which acquired the wooded ribbon of land in 2003 for nonpayment of taxes -- tried to sell the property in Napeague to any of the six adjoining land owners for $10. Four of the owners didn't respond to the offer to submit a bid but the other two were so interested the county set up a face-to-face auction and imposed a $1,500 minimum bid."

Marc Helie (of Manhattan firm Chevalier Investments, LLC) and Kyle N. Cruz (a managing director at Centerbridge Partners LP in Manhattan) jumped quickly to bids of $5,000, $12,000, and $17,000. Cruz folded after Helie saw his $115,000 and raised it to $120,000.

The parties aren't talking about what they saw in the slender property. But SuffolknCounty official Wayne R. Thompson commented: "I gathered one guy really did not want the other one walking over his property to the water."