It isn’t often that something sets my heart racing, and who knew a simple social media scan could make my stomach go flip flop. While scanning my Facebook feed, I came across notice of a very special event. Julien’s Auctions was having a public display and subsequent auction of some of the estate of a Hollywood legend – Greta Garbo. Garbo, a screen icon known for her luminous performances, extraordinary beauty and mysterious retirement from the film industry, has always been an actress who fascinated me from an early age. The collection of these items had made stops in Ireland and on the Queen Mary 2 on its way to Beverly Hills. For a few precious days, this family collection, soon to be scattered across the globe, would one last time shine for those fortunate enough to hear about this extraordinary opportunity.
The collection included clothing, artwork, household items and movie memorabilia. You will have to forgive the photographic length of this post, but since these items will never be seen together again, I wanted to give those who could not attend the opportunity to view them for yourself. There was also an auction catalog that may still be available for purchase from Julien's. So without further ado, let me share with you some of what I was able to see. I'll even record some of the final prices, especially where there are cards noting what the estimated auction price was. Not all of the items were on display as there were over 850 lots up for bid, and I certainly couldn't post all of the photos I took, but it is a lovely little snapshot of her life.
One of her two passports for bid, this one issued in 1964 - $12,000
Birds Eye Maple Cigarette Case
Cigarette Lighters and Ashtray, circa 1965.
She was a smoker, all right. There were several smoking-related items.
Signed Check to Lilly Dache, Inc.
Glass Vanity Items from her Dressing Table
Royal Doulton Clovelly China Set for 8
Silver Tiffany Pen - $1,100
Leroy W. Fairchild Ivory and Silver Desk Set
Monogrammed Sterling Cocktail Set - This went for $27,500.
In addition to the household items, which included everything from pots and pans, a waffle maker and juicers, books, kitchen utensils, medicine balls and skis, glassware, silver service items, pottery, toys, Louis Vuitton luggage, her painting supplies, and much, much more, there more personal items up for bid as well.
Monogrammed Vermeil Pillbox - This went for $8,000
Money Clip - $2,000
Gold Verdura Compact - $27,500.
That would be my hazy reflection in Greta Garbo's compact.
I'm sure she looked much better when she gazed in it.
Rhinestone Shoe Clips - $1,250
14K "GG" Monogrammed Baby I.D. Bracelet - $2,250
Goldplated "G" Brooch and Pearl and Diamond Ring
Marwitz Sunglasses - $4,500
Now we'll get to what many will consider the best part - the clothes. The collection included everything from hats to shoes, blouses to pants and skirts, belts, coats, furs and, of course, dresses. Most of what was displayed were the dresses and coats, so that is what the bulk of these photos will show you. While the display included a few pieces from the 30s and 40s, most of the display focused on her dresses from the 50s and 60s.
Navy Blue Leather Coach Handbag. That's right - Coach.
Black Velvet Turban - $10,000
One of the many lots of gloves.
Some fun sizing tidbits - she wasn't tiny. As you recall from my post on the shoeprints of Grauman's Chinese Theater, I'm envious of the tiny sizing of some of our legendary actresses of the golden era, so this was a nice observation for me to make. This glove lot above ranged in size from 6 1/2 to 7, but others went up to 7 1/2. While at least one pair of her shoes were a size 7, most were 9 to 9 1/2 - and were sensible and low-heeled to boot.
Beaver Fur Coat
Black Silk Dress
This dress is throwing me for a loop. The catalog entry says it is from circa 1930 and it is very specific in that it says it appears custom made for her and that she said it was the most expensive dress she ever purchased. But it does not look like a 1930 dress to me (it didn't say '30s, but 1930.) The full box pleats around and zipper closure at the back mark it as later to me.
This one makes me go hmmmmm.
And don't look now, but her arms are backwards.
Black Velvet Evening Dress from the late 1930s
This one had a closure at the shoulder (which I couldn't photograph well for the life of me) so the back would have a smooth line - no little slit on the back neck to make it fit over your head.
Brown and Turquoise wool flannel skirt suit from the early 1940s
Black Rayon Dress from the early 1940s. Snap and side zipper closure.
And some of the myriad other garments...
What is with the backwards arms?
The exhibition got me so inspired, I actually thought I might follow along with the bidding the next day and see if by some strange chance (since the catalog prices didn't seem horribly outrageous on some of the items) I might be able to own a piece of Garbo's legacy. What happened next? Those of my readers who follow my Twitter feed may have had a clue, but for more of what happened, tune in next time!