Private Greta Garbo goes public in celebrity auction

Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:34am EDT
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - She was renowned for her beauty and fierce sense of privacy, but later this year, fans of film legend Greta Garbo will get the chance to own one of more than 800 items of her wardrobe and home decor, including the bed she slept in.

Julien's Auctions said on Wednesday it would sell gowns, pant suits, furniture and art - ranging from a dress Garbo wore to dinner with President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy to an inflatable snowman the actress kept in her living room for laughs - at auction in Beverly Hills, California, on December 14 and 15.

"She is forever alluring and mysterious and timeless and she's very modern," her great-nephew Derek Reisfield told Reuters when describing the appeal of Garbo.

The Swedish actress started her Hollywood career in silent movies such as 1927's "Flesh and the Devil" and was among the few actors to move successfully to talkies, becoming iconic not only for her beauty but for her brains and the streak of independence she displayed on film and in her personal life.

She earned four Academy Award nominations, her first for 1929's "Anna Christie," and was finally given an honorary award for unforgettable performances by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1954.

Garbo retired from movies in 1941 and lived a very private life in New York until she died in 1990 at age 84.

After leaving Hollywood, she preferred to stay out of the public eye and only shared her sharp sense of humor with mostly family and friends, according to Reisfield, who said the family had kept his great-aunt's belongings in storage until now.

He said that around 2004, as his family prepared to mark 100 years since her birth on September 18, 1905, they decided it was time to begin to share more of her life with the public, which eventually led to the upcoming auction.   Continued...

Two unpublished photographs of Greta Garbo, the one shown dating from the 1930's and taken by her friend, a Mr. Carlander, while on vacation in Sweden, were sold at an auction June 17, 1996, commemorating 100 years of Swedish cinema. The photograph shown was sold to a Swedish company for 3,500 crowns ($530) while a second signed picture dating from the 1920's went for 17,000 crowns ($2,560) to a Swedish collector.