Over-the-top possessions or carefully decorated interiors are all finding favor with young collectors, whose interest in what’s left behind from high profile lives is driving a flourishing trend in estate sales.
If the original wood wall paneling or reddish-brown bedding in a New York apartment had belonged to an unknown person, new owners would toss the bed and strip the walls. However, as The Wall Street Journal reports in “Estate Sales Are Cool Again,” when the prior owner is Greta Garbo, one of the most reclusive stars of the past, those features aren’t trash—they’re treasures.
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 now being 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 were two entire rooms containing more than six decades of outfits, all protected from dust and carefully stored. That includes the blouse she wore in 1989 when on trial for smacking a police officer in Beverly Hills. According to her husband, Gabor and Liz Taylor went shopping in Paris, and bought everything they could.
Reference: The Wall Street Journal (February 1, 2018) “Estate Sales Are Cool Again”