If you were among the legions of Joan Didion fans whose efforts to score an item in the late literary and cultural icon’s estate sale this past November ended in disappointment, cheer up — provided your pockets are deep enough, you still have a chance to acquire the Manhattan apartment where the “Play It As It Lays” author and her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne, spent their final decades.
As first reported by Curbed, the 11-room residence in an Upper East Side co-op has just hit the market with an asking price of $7.5 million. The listing is represented by Serena Boardman of Sotheby’s International Realty,
Purchased by Didion and Dunne in 1988, the unit is on the fifth floor of a limestone-based pre-war building at the corner of East 71st Street and Madison Avenue. Per an October 2022 New York Times feature, when the couple’s daughter, Quintana Roo Dunne, saw the apartment for the first time, she advised them to “California it up.”
And this they did, filling the home with art, mementos, and furnishings that, as the pair wrote in a 1992 essay for HG magazine, “had meaning only for us.” One prime example: the antique partner’s desk Didion’s father bought for $30 at an auction in Sacramento, restored (it had been damaged in a fire), and gave to the couple as a wedding present. As they noted in the HG essay, “It has history and it has attitude, and we like to think the same of the apartment.”
Now, of course, all of the literary power-couple’s personal belongings have been removed from the four-bedroom, four and a half bath residence, though there’s still some traces of their “California-ing it up” present in the pastel hues of its bookshelves, moldings, and trim, as well as the red Spanish tile floor of its kitchen and pantry. [*Note: Some photos have been virtually staged*]
Other highlights include a semi-private elevator, lovely herringbone hardwood floors, a wood-burning fireplace and wet bar in the step-down library, and professional-grade Viking appliances in the very roomy kitchen.
Amenities of the pet-friendly co-op, on the board of which Didion served, include 24-hour doormen and hall attendants as well as a resident manager, a “state-of-the-art” fitness center, bicycle storage, and individual private storage. Maintenance charges come to a little over $8,000 per month.