“A new generation of collectors is scouring the homes of deceased celebrities and business titans in search of relics from a bygone time.”
A home with decades-old décor normally might struggle to find a buyer. However, The Wall Street Journal explains in its recent report, "Estate Sales Are Cool Again" that things are different for the Manhattan home of Greta Garbo—the screen star who retired from Hollywood and led an intensely private life. That choice only increases her fans' fascination.
Her apartment of nearly 40 years sold for $8.5 million recently, a 43% premium over its asking price. It's called “The Garbo Effect.”
When celebrities die, their homes and belongings are examined, researched and marketed to get the highest return.
Rather than collect antique furniture, a new generation of buyers wants items that might offer insight into the life of a star or business giant, or a glimpse of a bygone era.
“Younger collectors don't want things so much as they want experiences and stories,” said one director of a New York auction house. “Owning an item that belonged to a big celebrity combines the two,” she added.
Another upcoming sale with a variety of collectibles is the estate of Zsa Zsa Gabor, the Hungarian actress who died in 2016. Margaret Barrett and Carolyn Mani of Dallas-based Heritage Auctions evaluated her Los Angeles estate.
As Gabor's husband, Prince Frederic von Anhalt looked on, they inspected her glassware, jewelry, antique furniture and a collection of designer handbags.
The two took a week working at the Bel-Air home, evaluating the pieces to determine their origins, how she got them and what they might be worth. They plan to catalog and auction some of the items at the home this spring.
There is no shortage of personal items in Gabor's case: she required two rooms to house her more than six decades of outfits that were protected in plastic.