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grey gardens

The Grey Gardens estate sale looked incredible

Furniture, glasses and trinkets that belonged to Little Edie and Big Edie Beale of the legendary doc were up for grabs

The famed, fabulous and dilapidated Grey Gardens, once home to cult figures ‘Big Edie’ Bouvier Beale and ‘Little Edie’ Beale, opened to the public at the weekend for an estate sale. The East Hampton house was the location for the 1975 tragicomic documentary Grey Gardens, which chronicled the lives of Jackie Kennedy’s eccentric, reclusive aunt and cousin.

Cut off from society, the two fascinating women lived in the cat and raccoon-filled mansion, falling down around them and packed with trinkets, trash and pieces from dazzling lifestyles gone by. Albert and David Maysles’ doc saw the mother and daughter gain an obsessive fandom, as they continued to live in squalor away from the world.

A snapshot of time referenced by fashion, art and even drag, the weekend saw hundreds arrive at the sale to purchase a piece of the Beales. 

The Beales bought the home in 1923, and then it was purchased by former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee and journalist Sally Quinn in 1979. The pair worked on restoring it over the years. Currently, the home is under contract with an anonymous buyer.

According to Bloomberg, estate sale punters began turning up around 4am on Friday, queuing in droves to get into the house. Visitors wore booties over their shoes to keep the floor clean.

Glasses were available for $2, cloth napkins for $6, wallpaper rolls and wicker furniture were up for sale as well as a silver hand mirror, which appears in the doc. Items ranged in price from $1 to $795.

The sale’s manager Susan Wexler told Bloomberg that certain rooms were flagged for curious 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.”

As much as the documentary is endlessly bizarre and intriguing, it’s also desperately sad – two sharp-witted women left to stagnate in a house filled with rubbish. The doc itself was criticised for being exploitative of vulnerable people and voyeuristic. Though the Edies have long departed Grey Gardens, its certain their eccentric spirit still lives in its walls.