Real Estate

Gertrude Vanderbilt’s Long Island home still won’t sell

The historic home of railroad heiress and Whitney Museum founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney has sat on the market for over a year with out securing a purchaser. And actual estate-watchers need to know why.

Built in the early 1910s, the five-bedroom former art studio on Long Island’s North Shore options grand salons and statue-filled gardens. Buyers have visited — together with a handful of artists and style designers. And the home’s $4.75 million price ticket is cheap for its costly Old Westbury neighborhood. But “the right fit has not arrived yet,” mentioned Gertrude’s 68-year-old great-grandson John LeBoutillier, who owns the property along with his sister Susan Hunes. Rather than settling for a fast sale, “I want to sell it to people who will revere it and continue it the way we have,” LeBoutillier added. “My goal all along has been to preserve what my great-grandmother had built and her legacy.”

Gertrude Vanderbilt seen here with her husband, Harry Payne Whitney, arriving at court
Gertrude was well-known for her half within the heated custody battle over Gloria Vanderbilt within the Nineteen Thirties. She is seen right here along with her husband, Harry Payne Whitney, arriving at court docket to duke it out with Gloria’s mom.
Bettmann Archive

Born in Manhattan in 1875, Gertrude was the great-granddaughter of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt and the spouse of Harry Payne Whitney, whose fortune got here from thoroughbred breeding and racing. But Gertrude was additionally a pioneer who broke from Gilded Age norms. For one, she had a full-blown career as a well-regarded artist and labored on her sculptures day by day, a rarity for Vanderbilt girls. Equally key, Gertrude had her personal money, courtesy of her father, who left the household fortune to her, slightly than to her brothers — a daring transfer in Nineteenth-century New York.

Originally constructed within the 1910s, Gertrude’s property was transformed right into a five-bedroom home by her granddaughter, Pamela LeBoutillier, John’s mom. Situated between two sprawling nation golf equipment, the home’s provenance ought to have made it a simple sell. But because it sits on the market, insiders questioned whether or not the Vanderbilt connection provides a lot worth.

When Gertrude constructed her studio on Long Island in 1912, it was one big room with a number of ranges. In 1982, her granddaughter added two wings and several other bedrooms.
Paul J. Mateyunas

“The Vanderbilts were unusually successful in that they lasted a very long time, and yet it didn’t work out well in the end because their legacy produced a substantial amount of unhappiness,” mentioned Professor Michael McGerr, who chairs Indiana University’s historical past division. And a lot of that disappointment was borne by Gertrude.

Her most notable battle was along with her personal sister-in-law, with whom she infamously fought for custody of nine-year-old Gloria Vanderbilt in 1934. Gloria was Gertrude’s niece and Anderson Cooper’s artist mom who handed away in 2019 at 95. Far higher resourced and pedigreed than Gloria’s mom — Gertrude got here out victorious.

gertrude vanderbilt long island mansion
In the primary stairwell, a reproduction of the unique Howard Cushing mural is proudly displayed. The authentic mural was stripped and bought.
Courtesy of Douglas Elliman
Gloria Vanderbilt was solely 9 when her identify and face have been plastered throughout information stands. Gertrude ended up profitable full custody of her niece.
Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images

Gertrude wasn’t recognized for elaborate shows of wealth and her Delano & Aldrich-designed property displays her relative modesty. “It was William H. and his sons who created the lavish lifestyles that we associate with the Vanderbilts,” says T.J. Stiles, biographer, historian, and two-time Pulitzer prize winner. 

Most of the Vanderbilts’ houses have both been demolished or transformed into vacationer sights. Both the Breakers — Alice and Cornelius II Vanderbilt’s 70-room fortress in Newport — and the Biltmore, George Vanderbilt’s 250-room residence in Asheville, North Carolina, are actually museums. In Manhattan, 13 of the household’s authentic 14 personal houses have been demolished, together with Gertrude’s mother and father’ 12,000-square-foot residence, which consultants say would now be value $150 million. Today, just one Vanderbilt home still stands in New York; it too is on the market, accessible for a cool $50 million.

One of the most famous Vanderbilt residences is the Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island. It was built by Alice and Cornelius II and is now a living museum.
One of essentially the most well-known Vanderbilt residences is the Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island. It was constructed by Alice and Cornelius II and is now a residing museum.
Tim Graham/Getty Images
John LeBoutillier (with Cece Haydock) is Gertrude Vanderbilt's great-grandson and the current owner of her Long Island home.
John LeBoutillier (with Cece Haydock) is Gertrude Vanderbilt’s great-grandson and the present proprietor of her Long Island home.
Patrick McMullan/Getty Image

With so many Vanderbilt properties lost to time, LeBoutillier is doing every little thing doable to make sure his great-grandmother’s property finds a purchaser dedicated to its preservation. The sale, he mentioned, has by no means been about money. “We want the overall feel [of the place] to stay the way it is. Honoring her legacy is what’s most important here,” he mentioned.

Paul Mateyunas, the agent representing the property mentioned, “The buyers have to fall in love with it because it’s a lifestyle. This house is a lifestyle.”

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