Grey Gardens, a 28-room estate famous for its eccentric former residents and their storied clutter, now stands empty after one heck of a Hamptons estate sale this weekend.
Buyers and lined up at 4 a.m. for the 10 a.m. opening of the sale on Friday. In one example of impulse shopping, a for a cat-scratched chair just because it came from the home of Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale.
Known as “Big Edie” and "Little Edie,” the pair were the aunt and the first cousin respectively of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The formerly upper class socialites became cult figureheads of fading glamour after a 1975 documentary, “Grey Gardens,” showed their descent into squalor.
The documentary was adapted into a 2009 HBO film starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange, as well as a Broadway musical.
After Jackie paid to restore the East Hampton home, Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee and journalist Sally Quinn bought it together nearly 40 years ago. Quinn put on the market for just under $20 million in February, and found a buyer later this year after reducing the asking price to $18 million.
Per the buying contract, the house had to be empty by the sale's close, and Quinn enlisted Susan Wexler and her service, , to orchestrate an estate sale. Furniture and knick-knacks visible in the documentary — like their beds and famous American flags — were for sale, as well as pieces from Quinn and Bradley’s collection.
Wexler — including the room where the Beales stayed after the rest of the house was overcome by trash, cats, fleas, raccoons, and — wait, there’s more — opossums.
A different type of zoo was avoided this weekend, as guests were admitted only forty at a time. They padded into the house in blue sock booties, provided by Wexley to prevent buyers from tracking dirt throughout the property.
Some came just to see the house. And while we love historic homes, we can't match the enthusiasm of the visitor who told Bloomberg that they were so excited, they just wanted to “lick the walls.”
Not that we think the Edie's would have minded.