As many know the story of Grey Gardens, from the famous Documentary Film by the Maysles Brothers, and the Broadway Musical that has travelled the world, plus the HBO film in 2009 - it is easy to gather that Big Edie ( Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale) loved Grey Gardens and had no intention of moving EVER. Her bohemian spirit thrived in that environment and she was willing to sacrifice luxuries in order to stay there.
Wondering what she would say today, knowing that her property is now for sale for $20Million Dollars. Is it the home itself, or the famous story that gives Grey Gardens and the property it's current value? The property itself is not impressive in acreage nor is it ocean front. But the history is astonishing and the value of Grey Gardens will climb further without a doubt.
I recall finding a letter from Big Edie's youngest child, Buddy Beale who also happens to be my late father in law. Buddy was very loving and cared very much for his family. In the mid 1960's he wrote a letter to his mother, insisting to sell Grey Gardens for $65,000 and move to Palm Beach. The potential buyer was poised to sign the purchase offer, but Edie insisted she was never leaving her palace. Both Phelan and Buddy tried to help their mother survive the situation at the time.
I came across some photos of Big Edie at Grey Gardens. You can imagine that financial difficulties were already setting in after the stock market crash, and by the expressions on Big Edie's face she that she has no intention of giving up. You will see photos of her eldest son Phelan in the photos in the gardens along with Buddy. Another photo includes Molly, the family nanny and care giver. Edie must have been away at MPS (Miss Porter's School) at the time. Included in the photos is an interior shot of Grey Gardens - and as you can see the table is set.
Photo: Grey Gardens Interior - Dining Room View.
Photo: Big Edie with Molly. Copyright photos - www.greygardensofficial.com
The Beales had a different experience living at Grey Gardens. It was their summer retreat where they could relax and enjoy the sea. They did not rent out their place, nor host celebrities. They simply enjoyed each other, and the surroundings ( The Maidstone and Devon Country Clubs) for swimming, dining, and socializing. Will the new buyer of Grey Gardens tear it down or preserve the home as Sally Quinn and Ben Bradlee did in 1979? We are preserving our legacy just in case- which is why we have established Grey Gardens®, The Official Brand for Grey Gardens & Little Edie's Legacy. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr for future posts!
Big Edie enjoying the beautiful Grey Gardens. She looks more like Little Edie in this photo.
Photos are copyrighted - www.greygardensofficial.com . If you repost any of the photos on your blog or social media, please enter the credit as www.greygardensofficial.com
How ironic that Grey Gardens and "Lasata" Estate, both homes that belonged to the Bouviers and the Beale family in East Hampton, New York are for sale. Grey Gardens has recently been offered for sale at $20 Million, and Lasata is offered at $38 Million.
Lasata, was the summer home of John Vernou Bouvier Jr. and Maude Sergeant Bouvier with their family Edith Bouvier, William Sergeant Bouvier, John Vernou Bouvier III (Black Jack or Jacqueline Bouvier's Father ) and the Bouvier Twins, Maude and Michelle. Prior to Lasata, the Bouvier's owned the "Little House" also known as "Wildmoor" on Appaquogue road, East Hampton from 1915 to 1925.
Lasata was designed by architect Arthur C. Jackson and built in 1917. Lasata was known as Place of Peace and is recognized as one of the most beautiful houses in America. Situated on over 7 acres, this compound captures the eye with its beautiful landscaped gardens and stunning architecture.
I was speaking with Maude S. Davis, daughter of Maude Bouvier Davis, who talked about her summer visits to see "grampy" (John Vernou Bouvier Jr. at Lasata). While staying at Lasata, Maude recalls at 9 years of age, she had her own room and enjoyed the smells of summer as Paul, the gardener mowed the acres of lawn keeping the grounds impeccable. As the location on Further Lane was walking distance to the Ocean and The Maidstone Club, the family enjoyed the home! Maude especially appreciated the "Italian Gardens" and the fresh grown tomatoes from the that were as sweet as can be.
Lasata etching by Ruth E. Morse ( Italian Gardens )
Lasata - photo found on Corcoran Real Estate Listing for Lasata on further lane - $38Million
Grey Gardens photo below
Below: Photo of the Wildmoor House also known as "The Little House" owned by John Vernou Bouvier Jr., from 1915 to 1925. Eventually sold it to Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974) who was an American abstract expressionist painter, sculptor and printmaker.
Today, February 8, 2017, the famous mansion Grey Gardens is listed for sale for a price of approximately $20 Million dollars. Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale purchased Grey Gardens on December 20th, 1923 from Robert C. Hill who purchased the home in 1913. Grey Gardens was a very special seaside retreat for Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale and her family. The house was sold by her daughter Little Edie, to Sally Quinn and Ben Bradlee in 1979.
The 14-room Grey Gardens home is located on West End Road in East Hampton, Long Island and is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the Hamptons, renowned as the East Hampton Estate Area.
Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale sold part of the property for $11,000.00 in spite of her father's advice against it in order to keep up financially.
Little Edie enjoyed their weekend excursions to Grey Gardens as a youth, and wrote about it in her diary, "I Only Mark The Hours That Shine ~Little Edie's Diary, 1929". She loved Georgica Beach which was a short distance from the house and enjoyed visits to the Maidstone Club and Devon Yacht Club where she entered in tennis matches and swimming competitions.
After Little Edie's mother passed away, she decided to sell the house. The original listing price was $500,000.00 and eventually accepted the offer from Sally Quinn for $220,000.00. She was so pleased to know that Sally had promised to restore rather than tear down, so the legacy would remain long after Edie's death in 2002.
Edith Ewing Bouvier On Her Wedding Day 1917
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During the time I was going through Little Edie's boxes after she passed away, I discovered some items that sparked an idea for me to start a legacy brand. Edie had made such an impression, and I thought her legacy must live on.
Recently I met with Tony Bravo, a style editor for the San Francisco Chronicle Style section. Guess what we had in common? A passion for Grey Gardens and Little Edie!! We talked for hours about our story and where we were headed with our legacy brand Grey Gardens®.
Tony Bravo had an idea to do a Grey Gardens fashion shoot with the Grey Gardens jewelry collection plus designers such as Miu Miu, Valentino, Dries Van Noten, Comme des Garcon, Burberry, Stuart Weitzman, Alice and Olivia, and Dirk Van Saene. This was a very special Grey Gardens fashion shoot because Maria Beale is Little Edie's grand-niece and did a beautiful job channelling the boho spirit of the Grey Gardens film. Our jewelry looked amazing with these designer collections.
Eternal Edie: ‘The Best costume for Today’ http://www.sfchronicle.com/style/article/Eternal-Edie-The-best-costume-for-today-7394021.php?t=81c2ef1b18&cmpid=twitter-premium via @sfchronicle
Recently I came across this wonderful essay written in 2008 by Michael Braverman, a friend of Little Edie's. It was partially published in "Edith Bouvier Beale of Grey Gardens, A Life in Pictures"--but the entire essay is a must read!! Michael Braverman gives us a new glimpse into the Edie he knew. Michael Braverman is an Editor at Large, Hamptons Magazine.
Little Edie Is A Big Star, By Michael Braverman
She so tantalized us with her nonconformity that we were often blinded to her substance. I think she did this purposefully, giving us limited glimpses and bits and pieces, the way enchantresses, temptresses and seductresses have always done it. A few of us might claim to have been her friend, but who among us really knew Edie Beale?
As this important new book, "Edith Bouvier Beale of Grey Gardens, A Life in Pictures,” makes abundantly and elegantly clear, there was so much we did not know about this remarkable woman while she was alive. We knew she was smart, but now that we can read her diaries and letters we realize she was a brilliant, resourceful observer and commentator. We knew she was creative, but reading her poetry, even the very early poems, we marvel at her insights and her ability to use language and give expression to thought. We knew she was a rare young beauty and even in middle age had a radiant, charismatic quality, but photograph after photograph in this volume takes your breath away. And though she wore her family history proudly, it is only now with all this archived material and Bouvier Beale’s thoughtful introduction that we fully comprehend that the trajectory of the Bouvier and Beale families is a contour map of twentieth century upper class society in New York.
Who can read this book and fail to see that the prevailing image of Little Edie, the odd, reclusive, vulnerable Little Edie of the Maysles film is but one small dimension of a complex, diversified, exuberant and compelling life? This book will serve not merely to correct that inadequate and narrow filmed portrait of Edie, but will bring to readers an incalculably more valuable, more accurate, more dignified and more inclusive picture, one beyond the costumes and clichés. We can now start to see the whole person, the eclectic individual she was, starting with her fascinating childhood. We are fortunate that her legacy includes so much historical material, and that Eva Beale has been able to fashion a coherent and convincing chronicle of Edie’s life—particularly the happy times at Grey Gardens—before things ran downhill and before the newspapers and filmmakers sensationalized the later, brave, less happy times, unjustly turning Grey Gardens into a peep show.
There is no denying that Little Edie welcomed the attention. She was always a social person but for years had to lead an isolated life, a communicative person who was shielded and sequestered. Grey Gardens had severely limited her options; life had taken her in an unexpected and unfathomable direction.
Touched by fame in small, anomalous ways during her life, she’d be thrilled with the flamboyant, romantic, almost dizzying legacy that now exists. She’d be ecstatic, but not at all surprised.
The damn shame is that it came too late, she’d say. But fate also taught her to be philosophical about time. “It’s very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present. Awfully difficult,” she observed. There was, after all, no clock in Grey Gardens, no need for one.
She used to say lots of things like that. Edie was an accomplished storyteller. She was articulate. Her long stories had a beginning, middle and end, a rhythm and a pattern, sustained digressions, and asides that were divulged in tones and styles different from the main narrative, sometimes in accents or stage whispers, always with a theatrical flourish. And she knew a good sound bite. After the Board of Health raid on the house, she told the local newspaper that it was “engineered by henchmen of a mean, nasty Republican town” and that “they can get you in East Hampton for wearing red shoes on a Thursday.”
Her voice possessed the drawn out plummy edges of a pre-war debutante. She and Big Edie both retained a slight lock-jaw propriety that must have been heard at society garden parties decades before, referring to “my-onaisse at luncheon” or to the husband and father who had left years earlier as “Mr. Beale.”
Her famous family, her bizarre and fraught relationship with her mother, her years living in squalid conditions in East Hampton, the raid, the documentary film and the subsequent publicity—all that is curious and interesting, she’d assure us, but the world would one day know her as an entertainer, a singer, dancer, and storyteller. It was her fervent wish, undiminished over time, to perform for an audience
On January 10, 1978, two years after the death of her mother and nearly a year before moving from Grey Gardens, she stepped on stage as a performer at Reno Sweeney, a famed cabaret on West 13th Street in Greenwich Village. It had to have been an intimately personal and deeply existential experience for her. “This is something I’ve been planning since I was 19 years old. I’m just going to have a ball,” she told me that night.
She did. And so did everyone else in the room. Edie sang—familiar songs like “Tea for Two” and “As Time Goes By”, and two songs she had composed for the show. She danced a little—that was her real talent, she used to say, and she had strong, toned legs from swimming. She answered questions and chatted with the audience. Whatever nervousness she felt earlier vanished.
Some critics thought the whole idea of this 60ish woman, dressed in her homemade version of cabaret clothes, singing and dancing and bantering, was in a sense outlandish. But there was nothing outlandish in the connection between Edie and her audience. It was genuine and compelling. People liked her. Cousin Lee sent flowers. And if my memory is correct, Cousin Jackie called or sent a note.
After the initial audition at Reno Sweeney but before accepting the engagement, Edie called Jackie to tell her. Jackie’s response was that she preferred Edie avoid the inevitable publicity and not perform, but if it were something so personally important to Edie, she would certainly not stand in the way. It was a wise and kind answer—and maybe the only realistic one.
In her own way, Edie possessed a certain curious wisdom about her family and other people. She genuinely liked and respected her famous cousin Jacqueline Onassis and would explain that Jackie was “just a nice society girl,” as if she, Edie, had overcome this particular obstacle.
After selling Grey Gardens, and with the money in trust, she lived mostly in Florida, first on Indian Creek Road in Miami Beach, and later in Bal Harbour. Life there suited her. For one thing she was able to swim everyday in the ocean—a lifelong love. She lived in small apartments—without cats. After Big Edie died, she gave away all the cats except for two favorites named Sonny and Cher, and they were gone by the time she moved.
She kept up with Lee Schrager, a friend from the Hamptons, in her Florida years. Schrager owned Torpedo, one of the first popular clubs in the then newly chic South Beach, and Edie performed there at a sellout AIDS benefit with a Grey Gardens theme. Around this time, she met Gianni Versace, his partner, Antonio D’Amico, and Paul Beck, who was married to Donatella Versace at the time. “They were wild about Edie, and she reveled in the attention,” Schrager, who introduced them, told me.
Sadly, with no one to guide her—and she was not equipped to do it on her own—her show business career did not continue. She died in Florida on January 14, 2002, exactly 24 years—to the night—after her final curtain at Reno Sweeney.
It seems remarkable, now that her life has taken on mythical qualities, that she was mostly ignored in those final years, that there were virtually no interviews, nothing archived for the future. Some gay men identified with her rebellious, outsider status and the improvised, oddball fashions, but the public’s interest in Little Edie was as a player in a melodrama with Grey Gardens as the star, Edie a supporting actress.
Sensitive enough media portrayals might yet uncover the unconventional humanity of Little Edie. But even such portrayals romanticize the reality and create a kind of cordon sanitaire around the dreadful conditions, the very real dirt and smell of Grey Gardens, and the stagnant, stifling lives of its inhabitants.
Who can explain exactly what happened? We know this much: Over the years her life with Big Edie grew increasingly insular. The number of cats multiplied and the decay surrounding them intensified. Connections to the outside frayed. Help from the family was spurned. Once on this dreadful psychological and physical course it was almost impossible to turn back. The situation worsened incrementally, step by dismaying step. None of us can entirely understand the process, and certainly none of us should judge it. It is essential to remember that this was what they chose. Their decisions might have been irrational but they were living their lives as they wanted.
Little Edie managed to come through, perhaps bent and damaged, but whole. Though she wore sweaters on her head, she walked to Guild Hall on Main Street on Election Day to vote. Little Edie was a woman who could have become crazy but was merely unorthodox, whose mind could have surrendered but stayed alert. Her grip on reality was under assault, but given the circumstances of her life, she maintained an unexpected balance. I believe that strength goes back to her roots. With the publication of this book it becomes clearer that the solid, strong foundations of her early life gave her crucial support through the difficult years. Her resilience and the way she clung to her innate intelligence are as important as her eccentricity and the idiosyncratic way she dressed. This book adds immensely to that larger legacy.
Posthumously, she triumphed, and in a bigger way than she ever could have as a performer. Grey Gardens, with Christine Ebersole, was a hit Broadway musical. An HBO movie is in production with Drew Barrymore as Little Edie and Jessica Lange as Big Edie. Even this book, one of a prestigious series from Verlhac Editions, places her in the legendary company John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Jr., Grace Kelly, Paul Newman and Marilyn Monroe.
The buzz is there; her name is celebrated in the press and on the blogs. The plaintive longing, it turns out, was not far fetched. The desperate dream that eluded her in life is now reality. Little Edie is a big star.
Little Edie is the inspiration for the legacy brand Grey Gardens.
Did you know that the historic East Hampton Sea Spray Inn was Big Edie's go-to spot? Situated right on the ocean the Sea Spray was a very popular bohemian place to hang out. While sitting at the famed Inn, Big Edie would enjoy lobster, complete with the piano playing in the background, while gazing at the sea. Could it be that she picked up her famous catch-phrase, "Oceans of Happiness," while lounging at the Sea Spray?
The Sea Spray Inn goes way back, in the '70s there was a restaurant and bar complete with wicker-furnished sun porches that became an extension of the bar. As one of the "Original Bohemians" in East Hampton, Big Edie loved to get away from it all by enjoying the eclectic hidden gems of her time, such as this place. With the likes of Andy Warhol and Peter Beard, Big Edie fit right in. What we wouldn't give to go back in time and be part of that scene. Wouldn't you agree?
Inspired by the Sea Spray Inn and the very mantra of "Oceans of Happiness," we created the Grey Gardens "Sea Spray" Canvas Tote. Check out our latest piece to learn more.
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Welcome to the world of Grey Gardens Vintage.
In 2002, when Little Edie passed away, I was going through her collection of vintage jewelry. I realized that her style was unique and each piece was one of a kind. I have shopped the world at different flea markets and I have never come across the Little Edie Grey Gardens brooch - it is a handmade special piece. She collected pieces during the deco period - and her pieces are the inspiration for our legacy brand celebrating Little Edie and her mother. The Edies were two very special women! We are the official Grey Gardens brand,exclusively offering products inspired by Little Edie and the Bouviers.
Our authentic Little Edie brooch is featured in the Southwark Playhouse production of Grey Gardens Musical in London. Grey Gardens stars multi Olivier Award winners Sheila Hancock and Jenna Russell and starts on January 2, 2016 through February 6, 2016.
Our Little Edie Brooch is available at http://www.shopgreygardens.com