Obituary for Eunice Bailey Oakes Gardiner

Eunice Gardiner
 had an interesting life and yet it seemed her death went unnoticed.  
I never found an official obituary for her.  This blog entry is in her memory.

The late Mrs. Robert D.L. Gardiner had many unique life experiences.  Through my interest in Gardiners Island and the Gardiner family history I learned of Eunice.  
I knew she was a striking beauty but had no clue just how fascinated I would become by her life story.  Who exactly was this beauty with gorgeous red hair?  
Here are some details of Eunice’s intriguing life:

Eunice was born to Alfred and Lily Bailey on September 6, 1928 in London, England.  At an early age she became a model for  
Christian Dior in France.

In 1946, at the age of 18 Eunice was involved with an Osteopath named 
Stephen Ward
A number of years after their relationship, Ward was involved in a sex scandal involving John Profumo.  John Profumo was a member of the British Parliament who stepped down from his position after the sex scandal was uncovered.  
Ward was prosecuted for his role in introducing a married Profumo to a very young Christine Keeler.  Profumo and Keeler were involved in a sexual relationship.  
Ward was found guilty of profiting off of prostitution.  
On the day of his sentencing, he 
committed suicide.  
According to the book, An Affair of the State: The Profumo Case and the Framing of Stephen Ward by Knightley and Kennedy,  
Ward had been in love with Eunice

Stephen Ward, Christine Keeler and 2 unidentified women.

Prior to her first marriage it is reported that Eunice had turned down a marriage proposal from 
Orson Welles.  
On July 5, 1952, Eunice married  
William Pitt Oakes.  
Oakes was from a wealthy family who made their money through a number of ventures which included gold mining.   At the time of her marriage, Eunice was nearly 24 years old and Oakes was nearly 22 years old.  Although William’s family made much of their money in the northeastern United States and Canada, the family resided in  
Nassau, Bahamas.  
Years prior to Eunice’s entrance into this family, William’s father Sir Harry Oakes was murdered in a sensational case that rocked the Bahamas.  The story includes the  
Duke of Windsor  
who was in charge of the investigation against William’s brother in law for the murder.  A very sordid tale which ended in the brother in law, Count Alfred de Marigny being acquitted of the charges.  
No further court proceedings took place and the murderer was never identified. 
 The Oakes Family.  William Pitt Oakes believed to be sitting on the lap of his father,
Sir Harry Oakes.

On August 27, 1958, Eunice’s husband,  
William Pitt Oakes died at the age of 27.  
He was admitted to a hospital in 
New York City 
where he died.  The cause of death was listed as a coronary thrombosis complicated by a liver ailment.  Pitt-Oakes was known to be an alcoholic.  The couple did not have any children and they were said to be in the process of divorcing upon his death.  
They were married for 6 years.

Sir Harry Oakes and William Pitt Oakes tomb
Dover, Maine

On March 21, 1961, 
Eunice married Robert David Lion Gardiner 
at St. Thomas Church in New York City.  
At that time Eunice was 32 years old and Robert was 50.  
Robert came from one of the very early settlers of New York.  His family lineage includes one of the 
United States First Ladies,
Julia Gardiner Tyler.  
For years Robert was involved in a struggle over the family owned island he inherited which is located off of the coast of Long Island, NY.   
Gardiner’s Island 
 is the longest privately owned island which was granted to the Gardiner family by King Charles I in 1639.  
The couple met at a birthday party for Mr. Gardiner at the Everglades Club in Palm Beach, Florida.  
Eunice and Bob spent their years between 
East Hampton, New York and Palm Beach, Florida. 

In 1969 Eunice was painted by artist 
Salvador Dali.  
 Painting by Salvador Dali

On August 23, 2004 Robert David Lion Gardiner died.  
In March 2005 Christie’s had auctioned off some of the fabulous family heirlooms belonging to Mr. Gardiner.  Included in that auction was a  Robert Townsend chest on chest that went for $856,000 to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.   

The Townsend Chest at the Met

On July 26, 2011 Eunice died in Palm Beach.  
She is interred with her husband in South End Cemetery in East Hampton, NY.  
Eunice’s exquisite jewels were auctioned off at Sotheby’s in New York on April, 18, 2012.  The beneficiaries of the proceeds of both auctions is not know to this writer.  
There are 2 Gardiner foundations of note, the
 Eunice Joyce Gardiner Foundation 
and the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.
The mission of those foundations is not currently known. 

Platinum topped gold and diamond brooch, Black Star & Frost, Circa 1880.
Auction estimate, $15,000-20,000.  

 Sapphire and Diamond Pendant-Necklace, LaCloche Feres, France, Circa 1925.
Auction estimate $150,000-200,000. 
 Emerald and Diamond Necklace, First Quarter 19th Century.
Auction Estimate $40,000-60,000

Eunice Joyce Bailey Oakes Gardiner 
died at the age of 82. 
I have been told that she had ovarian cancer however, 
have not been able to confirm that report.  

If you knew Eunice personally or can provide additional information about her life, 
I would LOVE to hear from you.  
No doubt there will be more  
Eunice & “Bob” blog entries to follow….


Anonymous said...






Historically Vintage said...

Thank you so very much for commenting on this post. I am fascinated to hear from someone who knew Eunice in her earlier years. It was my understanding that she was born in London and her father was a Dr. This is very new information. I thank you for sharing that with me. I would love to learn more about her if you would be willing to share. Please contact me at VintageLifeandStyle@aol.com.


Historically Vintage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

There was another Dali of Eunice as one walked into the East Hampton White House during the late 60's. It was of her looking into a mirror. The double image was amazing. Bob was very proud of his timing in getting it done, while the price was only $25,000, very soon thereafter, Dali raised his price to $50,000.

MCS said...

I am a relative of Bob Gardiner. Though I believe he and Eunice were very happy together, many in our family suspected that Bob was, in fact, homosexual.

Anonymous said...

I met Eunice in 1964 in the Hamptons (specifically at the Bulls Head Inn- Bridgehampton) It was widely acknowledged Bob was gay, Eunice was flirtatious and the rest I will leave to the readers imagination. In the sixties Eunice was a regular vacationer in the Algarve area of Portugal where she enjoyed the company of young men.

Unknown said...

Everyone who ever met Robert Gardner could tell he was gay. No red blooded heterosexual man would carry on with the ridiculous snobbery and cattiness he did.

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