Edith Bouvier Beale Net Worth at Death – Salary, Income, Earnings

Edith Bouvier Beale Net Worth

Edith Bouvier Beale had an estimated net worth of $2 million at death. Edith Bouvier Beale (“Little Edie”) was an eccentric cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. She became a cult figure and fashion icon after her appearance in the documentary ‘Grey Gardens.’ The majority of her wealth was attributed to her inheritance from her family’s estate. 

Edith Bouvier Beale, a cousin of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, was a socialite and model known as “Little Edie.” Due to a series of family and financial problems, Beale’s mother and daughter withdrew to their estate, which had fallen into disrepair. Grey Gardens, a 1975 documentary, elevated the couple to cult status and fashion icons.

To calculate the net worth of Edith Bouvier Beale, subtract all her liabilities from her total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity she has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of her net worth:

Name: Edith Bouvier Beale
Net Worth: $2 Million
Monthly Salary: $20 Thousand
Annual Income: $300 Thousand
Source of Wealth: Inheritance

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Early Life

Edith Bouvier Beale, the eldest of Phelan and Edith Ewing Beale’s three children, was born on November 7, 1917, in New York, New York. “Little Edie,” as she was known, was a first cousin to Jacqueline (Bouvier) Kennedy Onassis. The Bouviers made their fortunes on Wall Street and in the legal profession, paving the way for a lifestyle that allowed Little Edie and her two brothers to spend their childhood bouncing between Manhattan and the Hamptons. In the early 1920s, Edie’s father relocated the family to Grey Gardens, a spectacular 28-room mansion with water views.

Beale, like her mother, a creative type who aspired to be a singer, had artistic aspirations. Her poem was published in a local New York magazine when she was nine years old, sparking her desire to become a writer. Despite her father’s strong objections, her true love was for the stage, which was almost certainly fueled by her relationship with her mother.

Beale was taken out of school by her mother for two years at the age of 11 for what was described as a respiratory illness. Instead of schoolwork, Little Edie accompanied her mother to the movies or the theater almost every day.

Beale was a stunning beauty, “surpassing even the dark charm of Jacqueline,” according to her cousin, John H. Davis. Beale modeled for Macy’s in 1934, the same year she attended Miss Porter’s finishing school in Farmington, Connecticut. The New York Times covered her debutante party in New York City two years later. She also took part in fashion shows in East Hampton, and by her early twenties, Edie Beale had earned the moniker “Body Beautiful.” She was romantically involved with Howard Hughes and reportedly turned down marriage proposals from John F. Kennedy’s oldest brother, Joe Jr., and millionaire J. Paul Getty.

As a young adult, Beale lived at the Barbizon Hotel in New York City, a residential hotel for women aspiring to be actresses or models. According to Edie Beale, it was a time of opportunity for her. More modeling work awaited, as did movie offers from MGM and Paramount studios, according to Edie.

Family Problems

The spotlight, on the other hand, would have to wait. Phelan Beale had left Edie’s mother for a younger woman by the mid-1930s. Big Edie Grey Gardens, child support, and not much else resulted from the couple’s eventual divorce. Edie Ewing Beale relied on her father for financial support and sold family heirlooms to keep the household afloat.

Big Edie’s singing ambitions grew stronger without a husband to drag her to Hampton cocktail parties she had no interest in attending in the first place. She went to clubs and even recorded some songs. She arrived late for her son’s wedding in 1942, dressed as an opera singer. Her father, “Major” John Vernou Bouvier, Jr., was shocked and quickly removed her from his will.

Edie Ewing Beal’s life at Grey Gardens fell apart because she didn’t have enough money to support herself or her home. Little Edie returned home from New York City in 1952, following Big Edie’s call, to care for her mother. She wouldn’t leave until Big Edie died in 1977.

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Reclusive Lifestyle

Beale and her mother became increasingly reclusive over the next two decades, rarely leaving their property. Grey Gardens itself continued to deteriorate, becoming a haven for stray cats — later estimates put the number at 300 — and raccoons, both of which Beale took care to feed on a regular basis. Bills went unpaid, and the two women survived on cat food. Beale stands in front of a mound of discarded cat food cans several feet tall in one memorable photograph. The property’s exterior changed as well; overgrown trees, shrubs, and vines closed in around the house.

County officials descended on Grey Gardens in the fall of 1971, armed with a search warrant. They threatened eviction and informed Beale and her mother that their home was “unfit for human habitation.” The story, as well as the two women’s close family ties to Kennedy Onassis, went viral in the press. The headline in the New York Post read, “Jackie’s Aunt Told: Clean Up Mansion.”

Big Edie and Little Edie slammed the threats, calling the County officials’ visit a “raid” and the work of a “mean, nasty Republican town.” “We’re artists versus bureaucrats,” Edie Beale explained. “Mother’s operetta in French. I dance, write poetry, and draw. But that doesn’t make us insane.” Kennedy Onassis eventually stepped in with her checkbook, paying $25,000 to have the place cleaned up in exchange for her aunt and cousin staying in their home.

Grey Gardens

David and Albert Maysles began filming their documentary about Edie Beale and her mother in the fall of 1973. The film, which was widely acclaimed when it was released in 1975, depicted Grey Gardens in nearly pre-cleanup squalor. However, both audiences and critics embraced the unique Beales. Little Edie paraded around in high heels, dancing in front of the camera, lamenting her missed opportunities for true fame.

Beale’s fashion sense was also a big part of the film, especially the improvised head wraps — towels, shirts, and scarves — she wore all the time. The coverings were not intended to be fashionable, but rather to conceal hair loss caused by alopecia, which she developed in her early twenties. The result, however, was a look that drew praise. Calvin Klein reportedly claimed that Little Edie’s appearance influenced some of his designs, and Harper’s Bazaar published a photo spread inspired by Edie Beale’s clothing creations in 1997.

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Later Years and Death

Following her mother’s death in February 1977, Edie Beale relocated to New York City, where she worked briefly as a cabaret singer at a Greenwich Village club. She sang, danced, and answered audience questions about her life. Little Edie brushed off any notions of being exploited. “I’ve been planning this since I was 19,” she explained. “I don’t care what they say about me—I’m going to have a good time.”

Grey Gardens was sold to Washington Post editors Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn in 1979 for a little more than $220,000 and a promise from the couple to restore it. Little Edie eventually moved to Florida, where she rented an apartment in Bal Harbour. On January 14, 2002, she died there. She was 84 years old.

Grey Gardens and the life Edie Beale and her mother led there have endured. In recent years, there has been a flood of new material about the women, including a 2006 DVD release of The Beales of Grey Gardens, which included more than 90 minutes of cut material from the original Maysles brothers documentary.

Furthermore, the lives of Edie Beal and her mother inspired a Broadway musical that won three Tony Awards in 2007, as well as a 2009 HBO production starring Drew Barrymore as Little Edie and Jessica Lange as Big Edie. In the end, the 1975 documentary, which was named one of the top 50 cult films of all time by Entertainment Weekly in 2003, gave Edie Beale and her mother the kind of fame they’d always desired.

Further Reading

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