Apr 02, 2017

Christie’s to Auction Greta Garbo’s Art Collection

Important works from the collection of the enigmatic actress go on sale in Christie’s Impressionist Modern Art Sale in New York
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On May 15th, Christie’s will offer works from Greta Garbo’s art collection in its Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art in New York. Highlights from the collection include works by artists including Jan Alekej Von Jawlensky, Chaim Soutine and Robert Delaunay.

The Swedish-born American actress is one of the most enigmatic and iconic actresses to have graced the big screen. “Of all the stars who have ever fired the imaginations of audiences,” film historian Ephraim Katz wrote, “none has quite projected a magnetism and a mystique equal to [hers].”
Derek Reisfield, Greta Garbo’s great nephew, remarked: “Greta Garbo had a real love of art and paintings, and she was very passionate about certain artists and pictures. She was particularly enamored with these three canvases, which offer a particularly modern representation of women, especially for their time. This was a concept that really resonated with her. Another factor that drove her collecting tastes was color. She was absolutely entranced by the vibrancy of the Delaunay. It was the central focal point of her living room in New York, and all of the furniture that she chose to surround the canvas played into its incredible colors. In essence, when we talk about Garbo we call her the first ‘modern woman,’ and I think that these three works speak to both her fundamental strength and striking aesthetic.”

Retiring from the big screen at the age of 35, Garbo transitioned to a life dedicated to fine art, scholarship and the many friends she held dear. From the 1940s onwards she began to assemble a remarkable private collection of painting, sculpture, works on paper and decorative art. Her collection largely remained hidden from public view.

Garbo’s grandniece, Gray Reisfield Horan, recalled her aunt’s profound love for the collection. “What are they talking about?” she would ask visitors about the pictures. “What do they say to each other?” It was a tremendously personal assemblage, one the actress arranged and re-hung with each new purchase. Horan described the image of Garbo sitting each night in front of her favorite paintings, “enjoying her evening scotch and a Nat Sherman cigarettello... held so elegantly with her gemstone encrusted Van Cleef & Arpels holder.”