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Amex’s Grey Gardens shopping event stopped by village officials

Grey Gardens in East Hampton

Grey Gardens in East Hampton Credit: The Corcoran Group

The Village of East Hampton put a stop to a shopping event that American Express planned to host at the Grey Gardens estate the company is renting for the summer, says the village administrator.

Amex rented the famed property in June for an undisclosed amount and planned to use the site for a series of card member events. Village Administrator Becky Hansen says after officials learned via promotional materials of a Jennifer Fisher Jewelry trunk sale scheduled to be held at the property on June 30, a cease-and-desist letter was sent to the homeowner saying commercial use of land is not permitted in residential districts.

“The fact that they would be conducting a commercial enterprise in a private residence does violate our zoning code,” Hansen says.

Hansen says shortly after the letter was received, the village was informed that the trunk sale would be held at an alternate location, which she believed to be in Southampton. Hansen says she is not aware if Amex will continue to rent the property.

A representative from American Express could not immediately be reached for comment.

The 1.7-acre property, with a pool and tennis court, includes a three-story, shingle-style home with nine bedrooms and 7 1⁄2 bathrooms. The house, listed with Michael Schultz and Susan Ryan of The Corcoran Group, was first put on the market in February with an asking price of $19.995 million, which has since been slashed to $17.995 million.

Before being restored, the house was featured in a 1975 documentary as the rundown home of its eccentric inhabitants, Edith “Big Edie” Bouvier Beale and her daughter, Edith “Little Edie” Beale, the aunt and cousin, respectively, of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The documentary inspired an Emmy Award-winning HBO movie starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore and a Broadway musical. The property was eventually sold to and restored by longtime Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, who died in 2014, and his wife, Sally Quinn, a Washington Post columnist.

The cease-and-desist letter, dated June 27, was sent to Sally Quinn Trust, which owns the house. It was signed by code enforcement Officer Kent Howie.

Hansen says the village is not aware of other events that American Express has planned for Grey Gardens.

“We’ll continue to monitor the property,” Hansen says. “If any violations of the code are witnessed, we will certainly seek the appropriate recourse, which could even be through the courts.”

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