Cartwright Island lies just off the tip of a long narrow sandspit that extends from the south end of historic Gardiners Island, off the coast of Long Island, New York. Like the sandspit, Cartwright Island is low and formed of sand, and unsuitable for habitation.
The Island is a navigational hazard.
The Goelet family, the wealthy owner, who owned Gardiners Island since the 17th Century, assert the sand spit and Cartwright Island are part of their property. In 2018 Roderick Richardson challenged the Goelet's assertion of ownership after their security guards confronted Richardson, and members of his family, on th Cartwright Island.
The Goelets assert their original 17th Century deed grants them everywhere "an Ox can wade without getting its belly wet." Richardson's court challenge triggered a discovery process, so the courts could decide where the property boundary was under modern law.
The East Hampton Trustees published a 13 page review of the scope of the 17th century deed by a local historian. The report stated that the family had exercised careful due diligence to protect its property rights.
- T. E. McMorrow (2018-08-21). "Whose Island Is It, Anyway?". Indy East End. https://indyeastend.com/uncategorized/whose-island-is-it-anyway/. Retrieved 2020-09-15. "He told the town board that, in the past, when he has asked security guards manning the patrol boats for proof that the Goelet trust has legal control over the shoal, he has been told that there is a 17th century royal grant. 'They told me that the Gardiners own Gardiners Island all the way into the water as far as an ox can walk up to its belly without getting its belly wet. Something I have heard in the past from these security guys. I have always asked them for a deed in the past. They have never been able to produce it. Something that shows me this language that they are telling the public.' He called the ox belly explanation 'a fairytale.'"
- "3 RESCUED AFTER BOAT CATCHES FIRE ON GARDINER’S BAY". New England boating. 2018-06-13. https://newenglandboating.com/3-rescued-after-boat-catches-fire-on-gardiners-bay/. Retrieved 2020-09-15.
- Ben Kava (2018-08-08). "Man Arrested On Cartwright Island After Taking Down Signs Stands His Ground". East Hampton Press. https://www.27east.com/east-hampton-press/man-arrested-on-cartwright-island-after-taking-down-signs-stands-his-ground-1632258/. Retrieved 2020-09-15. "Though Gardiners Island has been owned by the family of the same name ever since it was granted to them by British royalty, Mr. Richardson said that he has done extensive research proving that Cartwright Island is not included in that space, and is therefore public land, owned by the people of the State of New York."
- Steve Russell Boerner (2019-04-12). "Final report on the land title & foreshore boundaries of Cartwright Island/Ram Island and Gardiners Island, respectively, by Steve Russell Boerner, Real Property consultant, True Diligence Solutions LLC, April 12, 2019". East Hampton Trustees. https://ehtrustees.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Final-report-on-Cartwright-Island-and-Gardiners-Island-land-title-and-foreshore-boundaries-April-12-2019.pdf. Retrieved 2020-09-15. "This separate survey is yet another example of the careful due diligence exercised by the Gardiner family since their confirmatory deed of 1640, and continued to this present time with their posted “no trespassing” signs and notices in the local paper of record. The role of custom as pertaining to real property law requires usage of a particular property be ancient, exercised without interruption, peaceable and free from dispute, reasonableness, certainty, obligatory, and not inconsistent with other customs and laws. As already observed, the Gardiner family has consistently defended their ownership, making the public aware of this known information."