SELLER: Family of Greta Garbo
LOCATION: New York City, NY
SIZE: 2,855 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: The family of late and fiercely private silver screen siren Greta Garbo listed the vaunted actresses longtime apartment at the Campanile, one of New York City’s most exclusive and secretive buildings in the Beekman/Sutton Place neighborhood on the east side of Midtown, with an asking price of $5.95 million. Nominated for four Academy Awards and awarded an honorary Oscar in 1955 for her “unforgettable screen performances,” the Swedish-born showbiz legend purchased the three-bedroom and three-bathroom fifth floor co-operative in 1953 and occupied the 2,855-square-foot unit until her death, at 84, in 1990.
The full-floor spread has remained in the hands of the “Ninotchka” star’s heirs who, by comparison to photographs from the time of her residency, carefully pared down the décor and extensively renovated and updated the kitchen and bathrooms but otherwise meticulously maintained the apartment much as it was when the enigmatic actress died. Although the brocade wallpaper that once lined the lengthy entrance gallery has been removed, according to The New York Times, which first reported the listing, the “pink and green color scheme she chose is largely intact” and the walls and headboard in the master bedroom are covered in Miz Garbo’s favorite rose-colored Fortuny silk.
At almost 20 feet wide and nearly 35-feet long with perfectly preserved knotty pine paneled walls, the graciously proportioned, L-shaped living room has a bookshelf-lined library alcove and several picture windows that frame what listing descriptions describe as “the cinematic cityscape of bridges and buildings” along with “majestic river views all the way to NY Harbor.” Anchored at one end by a fireplace set between open bookshelves, there are a trio of French doors at the opposite end that open to a slender and downright vertiginous cantilevered balcony with sweeping 180-plus-degree views. On the walls hang bits and pieces of what remains of Miz Garbo’s once staggering art collection that at the time of her death included blue chip works by Renoir, Kandinsky and Bonnard. Many of her best pieces, including an 1890 van Gogh still life and one of Monet’s iconic lily pond paintings as well as her collection of 18th-century French antique furnishings, were sold at auction in late 1990.
The nearly 35-foot-long, parquet-floored entrance gallery, off of which opens a small, windowless home office with built-in desk space, links the living room to a much more intimately scaled dining room at the other end of the apartment. Like the living room, the dining room is sheathed in knotty pine paneling and has a row of large, single pane windows that provide teeth-chattering bridge and river views. The adjacent kitchen also has knotty pine paneled walls and cabinetry along with black granite counter tops, a complete collection of up-to-date name brand appliances and a cushioned built-in banquette dining space magnificently positioned in a windowed corner with thrilling, panoramic views over the East River and the southern tip of Roosevelt Island to the heavily industrialized skyline of Long Island City.
All three of the bedrooms face east with direct river views and have a small, en suite bathroom. One guest bedroom has a deep and thickly cushioned window seat while the other, which Miz Garbo used as a dressing room, features a custom-fitted brass latticed bookcase along one wall.
Built in 1927 and once home to English actor Rex Harrison and members of the mega-rich Heinz and Rothschild families, the Campanile was also home to Garbo’s great friend George Schlee who lived on the 9th floor with his spouse, flamboyant and haughty Ukrainian-born café society fashion designer Valentina, who is said to have resented her husband’s friendship with Miz Garbo and scrupulously avoided running into the formidable star in the elevator and lobby when entering and exiting the building.
Prospective buyers at the Campanile must not only pass muster with the building’s board they must also pay all cash and not balk or bat a well-heeled eye at sky-high common charges that according to current listings for Miz Garbo’s unit run $9,027 per month.
Listing photos and floor plan: Halstead