Edith Bouvier Beale of East Hampton, the Jackie Onassis cousin known to the world as Little Edie ever since the Maysles Brothers film “Grey Gardens” came out in 1975, may forever be remembered by the film’s devoted fans as surrounded by cats and supporting her aged and eccentric mother, Edith (Big Edie) Ewing Bouvier Beale.
Time moved on for Little Edie, however, and the film brought her a certain level of fame, or notoriety. In later years, her fan base increased even further as “Grey Gardens” gained a cult following. After her mother’s death she sold the house and had a life that somewhat resembled her vision of what it should have been all along.
A Polaroid image of Little Edie taken by Andy Warhol in 1976, a souvenir of the early post-film time, will be up for auction at Christie’s tomorrow. It is expected to sell for $5,000 to $7,000.
According to the auction house’s listing for the lot, Warhol and Beale met briefly at Grey Gardens around the time of the filming. The following year, she visited The Factory with Albert Maysles and sat for some photographs.
Little Edie said at the time that she thought Warhol might make a painting from the photo, according to Bouvier Beale, a nephew, and Eva Beale, his wife, who are the family members selling the photo. The couple said last week that it was “one of Edie’s prized possessions. She seemed to be very proud that Andy Warhol was taking the photographs of her.”
One of the photos from that day ended up in a Warhol book called “Exposures.” When the book came out Edie Beale was asked about the photograph, and she said that Warhol had given it to her to give to her mother. “I thought that was very sweet,” she said.
Big Edie died in 1977. In 1979, her daughter sold their fabled Apaquogue Road house, which was in a state of disrepair so serious that the county health department had at one point threatened to condemn it, to Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn — the first potential buyers who assured her that they would restore the place and not tear it down.
She then moved to New York City to be a singer and dancer. She was close to 60 at the time. Warhol attended some of her performances.
Little Edie died in 2002. Mr. Beale, one of three nephews and a niece who survived her, was designated her executor. His wife said Little Edie kept everything in boxes, and they found the photo that will be auctioned tomorrow in one of them, along with others that they published in a recent book, “Edith Bouvier Beale of Grey Gardens: A Life in Pictures.”
The decision to sell the photo, said Eva Beale, grew out of a conversation she had with an art dealer who told her that “one of Edie’s friends was hoping to find this photograph at an auction one day.”
“As the years go by, we are so amazed that Little Edie is the famous fashion icon that everyone adores,” Ms. Beale said. “In celebrating her life, we thought it was a good time to show this to the world — and what better way is there than Christie’s?”
The couple’s favorite memory of their aunt, they said, happened at their wedding. They were married at Gurney’s Inn in Montauk in 1980, and she got up and serenaded them with “Toujours L’Amour.”
She later visited them at their hillside house surrounded by redwood trees, in California, which she took to calling the tree house. They took her to Stinson Beach, a nearby seaside village, which they said she particularly enjoyed.
The Beales plan to continue Little Edie’s legacy through “specially designed products and reproductions from Edie’s collection.
“We are truly amazed with all the attention that continues even today for all things Grey Gardens,” Ms. Beale said.