CLOSER TO HOME

The screen star es­caped Tin­sel­town and found this mag­nif­i­cent Man­hat­tan palace

Closer Weekly - - Front Page - By GREGG GOLDSTEIN

Closer re­vis­its screen icon Greta Garbo’s vin­tage NYC re­treat.

Iwant to be alone,” Greta Garbo fa­mously sighed in her clas­sic 1932 hit Grand Ho­tel. And for the last 37 years of her life, the screen icon was able to en­joy her pri­vacy in a spec­tac­u­lar river­side co-op in New York City. The lux­u­ri­ous three-bed­room, three­bath apart­ment took up the en­tire fifth floor of The Cam­panile build­ing at 450 E. 52nd St., lo­cated on a quiet cul-de-sac next to the East River. Greta had a great de­sire to leave Hol­ly­wood for the se­cu­rity of an NYC door­man build­ing like this one. Ac­cord­ing to her great-niece, Gray Ho­ran, Greta once had to dan­gle from a drain­pipe at her LA home to avoid a prowler in­side.

Her famed Garbo magic, how­ever, didn’t cast its usual spell on the co-op board right away. “I had a hard time get­ting this apart­ment,” she re­port­edly told a friend. “They don’t like ac­tresses in this build­ing.” But she was able to buy the apart­ment in 1953, and set about dec­o­rat­ing it in shades of rose, salmon, pink and mossy green that re­main today. This was es­pe­cially ev­i­dent

in her fa­vorite space: an enor­mous liv­ing room that boasted a gas fire­place and bal­cony.

“One day, we were sit­ting in her liv­ing room and she told me, ‘I love color. I want the room to sing. How can one not un­der­stand? I just know. I didn’t have to learn it,’ ” Greta’s niece Gray Re­is­field re­called. “She said, ‘This room is my cre­ation, and I think it’s pretty good. You must learn to trust your­self.’” It in­cluded 18th-cen­tury silk cur­tains, a Louis XV Savon­nerie car­pet and the finest in Ré­gence fur­ni­ture and Im­pres­sion­ist paint­ings.

Her love of vivid hues could also be found in the pink rhodonite knick­knacks she col­lected and the salmon For­tuny fab­ric in her master bed­room, which she en­listed dec­o­ra­tor Billy Bald­win to paint. “Miss G picked up a small can­dle shade of mul­berry-col­ored silk and [said], ‘This shade was on a can­dle in a din­ing car in [my na­tive] Swe­den in the first train I was ever on,’ ”

he re­mem­bered. “Then she lit a can­dle and held it be­neath the shade. Our job was to paint the room the color shin­ing through the silk!”

And while her rep­u­ta­tion for want­ing to be alone was slightly overblown, it wasn’t en­tirely a myth. “Her home was a sanc­tu­ary,” says Ho­ran. “You didn’t get in there un­in­vited, and there were the sort of rooms that would then open up onto other rooms. She would maybe let some peo­ple into the first room, the foyer, but it would be very tan­ta­liz­ing be­cause you re­ally wouldn’t get be­yond that. She was very pri­vate. She en­ter­tained in her home, but it was al­ways a very quiet type of en­ter­tain­ment.”

Greta lived there hap­pily un­til her death in 1990. In March, her heirs listed the 2,855-square­foot space for $5.95 mil­lion — its ask­ing price en­hanced by her eye for in­te­rior de­sign. “I never set out to be an ac­tress,” she said. “I would have been good at a num­ber of things.”

Garbo seen in a pub­lic­ity shot for 1932’s As You

De­sire Me

“I was on the lam,” Greta said of her fre­quent moves in Cal­i­for­nia to es­cape snoop­ing neigh­bors and fans.

A cor­ner maid’s room was re­moved to ex­pand the kitchen and in­clude a cozy sit­ting area.

Renoir’s 1909 paint­ing Léon­tine et Coco once sat above the fire­place in her L-shaped liv­ing room.

TOP RIGHT: Her build­ing, built in 1927, had its own swim­ming

pool.

Greta de­signed this bed­room rug (made with NYC-based V’Soske) and named it Birds in Flight.

The nearly 35-foot gallery con­nects the en­tire apart­ment. Though Greta’s bro­cade wall­pa­per has been re­moved, it still show­cases el­e­gant light fix­tures.

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