Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills just conducted a two-day auction of property from Greta Garbo's estate. Although a superstar in the 1930s, Garbo made her last movie, the flop Two-Faced Woman, in 1941 and died in 1990. Before Friday, it wasn't clear that she maintained enough of a fan base to make her property especially valuable solely on the basis of provenance. Julien's pre-auction valuations were, in fact, modest enough that when my friend Kate Hahn (whose Forgotten Fashion: An Illustrated Faux History Of Outrageous Trends And Their Untimely Demise, excerpted here and here, is a DG favorite) and I visited the preview we actually bid on a few items.
An early sign that we needn't have bothered was this set of Garbo's driving caps, which had a pre-auction estimate of $150 to $200. They sold for 100 times that: $15,000.
Kate resisted the temptation to bid on Garbo's silver cocktail service, estimated at $800 to $1200. It went for $34,375.
One of the most strikingly strange items in the collection was a pink clown hat, which the auction house said was, "Known by the family to have been made by Valentina for a privately staged production in which Garbo played a clown with friends in the 1950s." Estimated at $150 to $300, it sold for $8,125.