Visitors Clean Out Grey Gardens Estate Sale In East Hampton


Susan Wexler was on her way to Grey Gardens once again on Monday.

After organizing a weekend estate sale at the former East Hampton home of Little Edie and Big Edie Bouvier Beale and, more recently, Sally Quinn and the late Ben Bradlee, Ms. Wexler—of Behind the Hedges in Bridgehampton—still had a few details to wrap up.

A customer who’d bought “a ton of stuff” was going to meet her to finish paying and take it away. Ms. Wexler had to return a TV that, during the sale, had looped a video showing, in black and white, Grey Gardens as Mr. Bradlee and Ms. Quinn found it in 1979, after Big and Little Edie lived there for years in decrepitude—and, in color, Grey Gardens as it appears today, following Ms. Quinn’s and Mr. Bradlee’s extensive renovation of the property, which is selling for an undisclosed price after being listed for $18 million.

On Monday, Ms. Wexler wasn’t certain how many visitors the three-day event had attracted—they were a mix of eager shoppers and fans of the home’s storied former owners, the subject of the 1975 cult documentary “Grey Gardens,” as well as books, a movie and a musical.

“It could have been over 2,000,” Ms. Wexler said. “People were lined up every day all the way from the door to past West End Road.”

From mirrors and wicker furniture and bed frames and linens to prints and desks and garden pottery, the estate sale offered a mix of Beale memorabilia and Ms. Quinn’s home furnishings, as well as an opportunity to take a long peek at the premises.

The former was pretty much picked clean on Friday by customers who waited about an hour to get inside and were able to purchase, say, a pair of martini glasses for less than $5 to give for Christmas and boast, “These came from Grey Gardens!” or to acquire a set of soup bowls to fill at the Thanksgiving table.

“A piece of history” was how one visitor described a couple of glasses he’d snagged in the kitchen.

“All that for $16!” said one worker as she took cash and bagged a purchase.

Susan Lish of Springs said she was thrilled with her purchase of a sofa set from the downstairs parlor for $400—not much more than the cost of a Hamptons haircut, she said, picturing herself sitting on the cottage-style furniture pieces while watching Netflix and sipping tea.

“Little Edie was a fan of Living, our rock band,” in the 1970s, Ms. Lish said, noting that Little Edie would attend their performances and was “very eccentric.” Ms. Lish said she couldn’t bear to watch the Maysles brothers’ “Grey Gardens” documentary because it pained her.

“‘It’s very difficult to keep the line between the past from the present,’” she quoted Little Edie as saying.

Ms. Wexler said people had traveled from as far away as Chicago, Florida, Maine and Texas to attend the estate sale.

Two men who flew in from California called her afterward to ask if they could have the leftover event signs. Other signs were stolen, saving Ms. Wexler the trouble of disposing of them, and some people asked if they could have the price tickets to keep as souvenirs. A woman from Islip bought a church-key, “crappy old can opener” worth less than a dollar, and then forgot to take it with her.

“She called me up ,heartbroken,” said Ms. Wexler, who promised to put it in the mail.

“Everybody was great, very civil … and no one even asked for discounts,” she said. “We didn’t have to reduce anything on Sunday.

“Everything is gone, except for one bicycle, some mattresses and box springs, and one outdoor table with a glass top,” Ms. Wexler continued, adding that those items will most likely be sold on Bonac Yard Sale.

Overall, the estate sale was “a smashing success,” she summed up.

“It was incredible—I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Ms. Wexler said. “I was thrilled to be a part of it.”

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