He first arrived in New York in 1956 when it was pouring with rain.
It was one of those sweltering days that was a far cry from the mild temperatures of his native California.
At barely 20 years old, she took the bus to Manhattan to reach the offices of
the first link in her meteoric career to become one of the most brilliant chroniclers the United States has produced in the 20th century.
In an account by journalist Heidi Harrington-Johnson on the occasion of the premiere of the documentary
Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold
available on Netflix, describes how in those early years the Sacramento writer assimilated the clichés that would give rise to her own vision of the Big Apple;
from the ladies of uptown Madison Avenue to their
Chinese laundries, smoking taxis, and the lights of Times Square.
After living in several shared apartments, he rented his own about twenty blocks from the center.
Without a large budget but already displaying the glamor that accompanied Didion in life, she decorated it with two French garden chairs and some yellow silk curtains.
The golden light projected by this fabric thought that she would make him feel better in that first phase of falling in love with the place.
“New York was not a mere city,” wrote Joan Didion in her 1967
Goodbye to All That
, “instead it was an infinitely romantic notion, the mysterious nexus of all love, money, and power, the bright and everlasting dream itself.” .
André Mellone's New York duplex should be on the books
Eight years later, she left the city with her husband John G. Dunne (at that time a journalist for
magazine ) to settle in Los Angeles, and it would not be until 1988 when they would return to New York again.
In an article for House and Garden
from 1992 in which both writers tour the privacy of their new home, Didion explains that their return was a matter of impulse, but attachment and nostalgia for their homeland led them to live several years between the two American coasts, a journey that defined his way of life and his own work.
Portrait that Dominique Nabokov made in 1995 of the salon, just as Didion and Dunne kept it in life.
They settled into a spacious apartment at 30 East 71 Street, nestled in a 1928 limestone-clad residential building in the heart of the Upper East Side.
Overlooking St. James Church at the corner of Madison Avenue, the stunning setting was Didion's home until her death in December 2021, a witness to her most lauded works and the life tragedies that fueled them. her lines.
His lavish dining room made headlines in 2003 when John G. Dunne suffered a heart attack while Didion was preparing a salad for dinner.
That first face to face with death would lead to
The Year of Magical Thought
A true contemporary classic about the inexorable mourning that involves the loss of a loved one.
Barely 18 months after the tragedy, the unwanted pain would once again inspire a new memoir,
, after his only daughter, Quintana, died of acute pancreatitis.
were conceived within the walls of this apartment.
Views from the main rooms to the church of St. James.
With no tenants since Didion's death, any wealthy fan of the writer who wants to buy this spacious 11-bedroom home can now do so through Sotheby's real estate portal for $7,500,000 (about seven million euros at current exchange rates).
In addition to the literary value it represents, what was the home of Didion and Dunne for decades anchored in the architectural beauty of the interwar period, is the dream of any cosmopolitan family.
The building has a recently renovated lobby, laundry, storage rooms and a gym with state-of-the-art machines and is pet friendly.
The community costs $8,000 a month.
With a privileged location a few meters from Central Park and museums and
The most famous in the city, the house has large windows with constant natural light and houses four bedrooms, four bathrooms and a toilet, as well as a semi-private elevator that leads to a gallery that acts as an epicenter with storage cabinets.
Photo: Real Estate Production Network for Sotheby's International Realty.
The main room, which witnessed lengthy interviews with the couple, reading sessions and literary evenings, includes a bar area and is crowned by a wood-burning fireplace with classic moldings.
On both sides of the frame and on pastel blue brick shelves, the Dunne couple accumulated part of their personal library, also distributed along the opposite wall of the room.
In late January of this year, the New York Public Library acquired the Didion and Dunne joint literary archives.
Among others, his personal collection of letters, photographs, and manuscripts, including the research paper Didion used to produce the acclaimed essays
Slouching Towards Bethlehem
The White Album
as well as notes and drafts of
The Year of Magical Thinking
Joan Didion in her New York apartment.
Star Tribune via Getty Images (Star Tribune via Getty Images)
The room leads to a living room and a dining room, with small cabinets and built-in shelves in the same baby blue as all the interior carpentry.
Originally the walls of the house were painted in the tone
(an aquatic white) that the couple chose after hours of discussion with the painters for its resemblance to the palest of greens, perhaps in memory of the water of the Pacific coast that Didion liked it so much.
In the south wing of the apartment is the kitchen-dining room next to a large pantry, appliances from Viking (the
favorite of well-to-do American families) and stainless steel faucets, wooden cabinets and an original terracotta hexagonal tile floor.
Finally, a service area with private bathroom and laundry room.
Render with a design proposal for a future reform of the house.
Photo: Real Estate Production Network for Sotheby's International Realty.
The master bedroom is the dream
for any traveler with gourmet tastes;
It has a large private bathroom with large windows, an office with pearl gray carpeting, a dressing table and custom-made shelves, along with an adjoining room as a dressing room.
The rest of the rooms have views to the south of the island, including the iconic rooftops of the East 70th St townhouses, and are connected by several bathrooms and a long corridor with more space for storage.
The herringbone wooden floor and the classic moldings are original from the time, which breathe that architectural solemnity that this type of building offered before World War II.
The residence's listing came a few weeks after the astronomical amount that the lot of
An American Icon: Property from the Collection of Joan Didion
at the Stair Galleries auction house fetched, far exceeding the expected value.
More than two million dollars she has collected to date, an amount destined for two charities, one of them, in the form of a scholarship for women linked to literature in the city of Sacramento.
Lot from the collection 'An American Icon: Property from the Collection of Joan Didion' at the Stair Galleries auction house.
Photo: Courtesy Stair Galleries.
Many of the personal items on display at this auction graced his Upper East Side residence for decades.
A reflection of Didion's refined taste, hungry for antiques and contemporary pieces of art that was often branded as a prime example of
Starring in an advertisement for the fashion firm Céline only strengthened the myth.
Despite minor scratches from use, the faux tortoiseshell-rimmed sunglasses she wears in the campaign were one of the most coveted pieces in the lot, fetching $27,000 at auction close.
The famous Emmanuele-style rattan chair with which Didion was photographed on numerous occasions, alone or with Quintana, as well as a set of silver Cartier bowls with the couple's initials JJD, Limoges porcelain, Le Creuset pots, a Baccarat crystal ice bucket or his collection of antique Hurricane lamps that he cites in writings such as
The Year of Magical Thought
and that adorned the windowsill of the living room, are some of the distinguished pieces that were auctioned.
In addition to numerous objects of incalculable emotional value such as the IBM typewriter with which Didion transcribed her famous essays, writing materials or the collection of shells and beach pebbles that she herself collected and used to decorate the fireplace in the main living room.
Joan Didion sitting in her famous rattan chair in the Upper East Side apartment. Neville Elder (Corbis via Getty Images)
In one of the columns that the journalist Nancy Levinson wrote about this house for the publication ArtsJournal.com, she mentions that her interest was not focused on decoration or design issues, but on the way in which Didion had chosen to arrange the objects around her. Around him, in the space where he lived and wrote: “On his desk [were] sheets of blotting paper, a Luxo lamp, a vase of fresh roses, and, in a frame, his rejection letter from Stanford dated April 25, 1952. (…).
Next to an old silver tea service is an FBI flyer from the mid-1970s about the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst, several family photos, and a March 1970 telegram informing Didion of weekly casualties in Vietnam,” she describes.
House portal at 30 East 71 Street.
In 2021, the publishing house Apartamento reissued the book
New York Living Rooms, with the work that Dominique Nabokov did in 1995 for an essay in
In it, the photographer draws through
an intimate indoor portrait of some of the city's most legendary cultural figures, such as Susan Sontag, Louise Bourgeois, Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer.
Its pages include a shot of the room that Didion and Dunne shared in this residence, without altering the original light or moving an object or including a bouquet of flowers, an unusual practice in decoration magazines.
With their shelves crammed with books, maps, and newspaper clippings, the haphazard arrangement of chairs and reading lamps they used to have, and the lingering memory of their native California with a panorama over the fireplace.
Just as the couple arranged in life.
Now the walls rest empty waiting for a new owner, and although the
Cool the mystical charge still perceives the essence of Didion's universe.
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