2 June 2023

Joan Didion’s apartment just won’t sell

The property Didion shared with her husband and daughter is up for sale, but unlike her auction, fans aren’t frenzied over the pricey listing.

Not too long ago, author and critic Joan Didion’s estate was up for grabs, including her personal belongings and her wardrobe. We are talking about a premium auction hosted at the Stair Galleries, with iconic items like her Celine sunnies that sold for a whopping $27,000. This time around, Didion’s apartment is up for grabs – an 11-room place on the Upper East Side. However, the frenzy that surrounded her assorted items hasn’t translated into her real estate, and the living quarters are left empty with little to no offers.

The four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath apartment was put on the market in late January for $7.5 million and has now been slashed down with a one million dollar price cut. The New York Post reported that the cut may have been taken down due to the other sales in the building, which were considerably lower. 

The influential ‘Goodbye to All That’ writer died inside the apartment in December 2021 following a battle with Parkinson’s disease. At the age of 87, she outlived both her immediate family members, including her daughter Quintana Roo Dunne who passed in 2005, and her husband John Gregory Dunne in 2003. Dunne also passed away on the property, which prompted his wife to write a memoir on her grief called ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’. They purchased the place in 1988 and it became their primary residence. 

Now, the place is listed at $6.5 million, with the East 71st Street location right across from Central Park in a spacious pre-war building. The living room boasts a library and wood-burning fireplace, with little blue built-in bookshelves and mint-condition herringbone flooring. It would seem that the initial price, despite its extensive history, was too much, and the dated kitchen, for example, was a sacrifice when it came to more functional kitchens on the market. 

Here we see that even Didion isn’t exempt from the current housing market situation, and this one-million-dollar price cut may be the way to push through her property once and for all. Requiring extensive renovation, the New York estate climate means that this type of apartment would need a lump sum of money put into it, which alongside the original asking price, isn’t an easy sell. 

The listing is held by Serena Boardman of Sotheby’s International Realty, and when it first hit the market, was hot on the heels of the auction, so the hype was still rather fresh. But maybe the likes of an $11,000 dictionary had exhausted fans of their betting, and this type of sale was too soon. When Didion and her husband Dunne initially heard of the apartment, they too refused to look at the place for fear the price was too high. When Wall Street crashed, however, and four price cuts took their toll, the couple eventually bought it. They were won, according to the L.A Times, by the church next door, and the fact that no one could build anything new on the site. Hopefully this time, it won’t take that many price cuts to sell the iconic place, and the prestigious limestone building will be bought up by an upcoming writer like Didion herself. 

  • Writer Ella Chadwick
  • Banner Image Credit Instagram @joandidionfan

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