What’s Selling at the Hamptons Yard Sale at Grey Gardens

Saturday, 18 November 2017, 02:10:08 AM. The 6,000-square-foot home, once the wild domain of the Bouvier Beale pack rats, is the scene of a buzzy estate sale this weekend.

Shoppers wait in line outside the Grey Gardens property in East Hampton, New York, on Nov. 17.Photographer: David Williams/Bloomberg

Grey Gardens was the home of Jackie Onassis’s eccentric Beale relations, notorious for letting the 6,000-square-foot home devolve into an overgrown dump.  Then it was the estate of Ben Bradlee, the former executive editor of  the Washington Post, and his wife, the journalist Sally Quinn.

Now it’s a madhouse—in the best possible way.

The 1.7-acre East Hampton, N.Y., property, which was listed for $18 million and recently sold for an undisclosed amount, is the scene of a bustling, buzzy estate sale being held Friday and over the weekend. That’s the polite word for a yard sale among the high rollers of Long Island’s East End, and it is drawing hundreds of buyers. Susan Wexler, whose Bridgehampton company, Behind the Hedgerows, is managing the sale, declared it an “impressive” turnout.

People started lining up around 4 a.m. and were admitted to the house 40 at a time. The first space on the walk-through was an elegant porch with a hammock. Then came a foyer with gray-and-white-striped wallpaper and crown moldings. The eager visitors moved through the immaculate house in a kind of civilized stampede, shod in blue, hospital-style booties that Wexler issued to keep the place clean. 

Shoppers wearing protective booties line up before entering the house.Photographer: David Williams/Bloomberg

On offer were the ordinary things of daily life—drinking glasses for $2, cloth napkins for $6—and a raft of items from the Beale days. There were wicker furniture that Quinn found in the attic, pieces reupholstered to salvage them from ruin, and a silver handheld mirror. It appears in the 1975 documentary that immortalized the Beales, affectionately known as Little Edie and Big Edie, and the outrageous clutter in which they nested. Each item bore a little beige tag, with a gold sticker if it was from the old days.

“There’s a good deal of original stuff, plus a lot of possessions from Sally and Ben, too,” said Wexler. Though the house is no longer for sale, she had flagged certain rooms for shoppers. “We indicate one room where the Beales stayed after they trashed the rest of the house,” she said. “One room is reported to be haunted by the original owner and the sea captain lover of Big Edie.” 

A handheld mirror for sale.Photographer: David Williams/Bloomberg

Next to Bradlee’s rolltop desk, at $675, was a convertible sofa for $225. Items showed their age, especially those from the Beale years, with little dings in mirror frames, cracks in a desktop, and rust on the steel beds where the Edies dreamed their dreams. Four frayed pillows bordered in lace were snapped up for $45 to $75 apiece. One gentleman from New York City in pink velvet slippers bought a $495 chair owned by the Beales and bearing the claw marks of their many cats.

Preparations for the sale began nearly a month ago, when Quinn, widowed in 2014, brought in Wexler. There was a lot to go through. Edith Bouvier Beale and her mother, Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale, had lived there for years. The Suffolk County Health Department raided the house in 1971 and found such horrors that it threatened to evict the charming pack rats. Jackie footed the bill for a massive scouring. Quinn and Bradlee purchased Grey Gardens in 1979 for $220,000 from Little Edie and restored the estate to its original grandeur. The downfall of both the home and the Ediths was chronicled in the documentary and later became the subject of a movie and a musical.

Wexler priced everything to move, at $1 to $795. As of this dispatch, it was moving.

The estate sale at Grey Gardens property in East Hampton, New York. A home once owned by Sally Quinn, Ben Bradlee and Edith and Edie Beale. The house recently sold in the ballpark of 20 million dollars. Photo Credit David Williams/BloombergPhotographer: David Williams/BloombergThe estate sale at Grey Gardens property in East Hampton, New York. A home once owned by Sally Quinn, Ben Bradlee and Edith and Edie Beale. The house recently sold in the ballpark of 20 million dollars. Photo Credit David Williams/BloombergPhotographer: David Williams/BloombergThe estate sale at Grey Gardens property in East Hampton, New York. A home once owned by Sally Quinn, Ben Bradlee and Edith and Edie Beale. The house recently sold in the ballpark of 20 million dollars. Photo Credit David Williams/BloombergPhotographer: David Williams/BloombergShoppers at the Grey Gardens property in East Hampton look for antiques from the home once owned by Sally Quinn, Ben Bradlee and Edith and Edie Beale. The house recently sold in the ballpark of 20 million dollars. Photo Credit David Williams/BloombergPhotographer: David Williams/BloombergThe estate sale at Grey Gardens property in East Hampton, New York. A home once owned by Sally Quinn, Ben Bradlee and Edith and Edie Beale. The house recently sold in the ballpark of 20 million dollars. Photo Credit David Williams/BloombergPhotographer: David Williams/Bloomberg

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