Nantucket’s “Clam Shack” Fiasco

charles johnson Ann Johnson
Old North Wharf is a co-op, meaning that Johnson and his fellow billionaires on the wharf own stock in a corporation that owns the homes, and they get 99-year leases to live in them. Photo: Patrick McMullan/Getty Images
William D. Cohan
June 23, 2024

Many of you are perhaps aware of the so-called “Clam Shack” dispute that hit Nantucket last year, involving Charles Johnson, the 91-year-old billionaire and former longtime C.E.O. of Franklin Templeton Investments and part owner of the San Francisco Giants. One of the several properties that Johnson owns on Nantucket is called Omega, a modest, 1,200-square-foot house for which Johnson paid $5.45 million. Omega is toward the end of the Old North Wharf that juts into the Nantucket Harbor.  

These properties are desirable not only for their quaintness and their proximity to the harbor, but also for their boat slips, which allow for the comings and goings of their sea-faring vessels, as well as a convenient downtown parking spot. Old North Wharf, first constructed in 1723, is also a co-operative, like many Manhattan apartment buildings, meaning that Johnson and his fellow billionaires on the wharf own stock in a corporation that owns the homes, and they get 99-year leases to live in them.