After 16 years as one of the biggest box-office draws in the world, famously reclusive silver screen star Greta Garbo retired from acting in 1941 and never made another movie. After short stints living at the Ritz Carlton and Hampshire House in New York, in 1954 she settled into a sprawling co-operative apartment in Beekman Place, overlooking the East River on the eastern edge of midtown Manhattan. The four-times-Oscar-nominated “Ninotchka” star is believed to have paid about $38,000 for the apartment, where she lived until her death in 1990 at the age of 85.
The flat stayed in Garbo’s family until 2017, when out came up for sale at $5.95 million and publishing heir John McGraw, of the publishing house McGraw-Hill, and his wife Marjorie bought it in a heated bidding war for $8.5 million. The McGraws renovated the kitchen, dining room, and HVAC system, but otherwise kept the apartment much as Garbo had it. They’ve now listed the floor-through unit at $7.25 million. Listing agents are Brian Lewis of Compass and Will Kerr and Woody Kerr of Corcoran.
The approximately 3,000-square-foot flat is in The Campanile, a quietly distinguished full-service 16-unit building that dates to the 1920s. (Fun fact: “campanile” means “bell tower.”) The listing states, “[Garbo] was drawn to this three-bedroom, three-bath aerie directly above the East River partly because the passing boats reminded her of her beloved, native Stockholm.”
Vestiges of Garbo’s tenancy remain, including the walls and headboard in the main bedroom, which are upholstered in rose-colored Fortuny silk. A V’soske rug that Garbo designed is found in another bedroom. The McGraws also opted not to move or add any walls, which means the vast living room, reportedly Garbo’s favorite space, is intact. With fantastic views, a fireplace and French doors to a small balcony, the 34-by-20-foot space is wrapped in its handsome original paneling. The McGraws collect 18th-century American furniture, and it complements the space perfectly.
On the other hand, the kitchen is new and nicely equipped in a simple, unpretentious style. There’s also a formal dining room, an attractive gallery, a library nook, and a home office. One of the two guest bedrooms is furnished as a study with built-in bookshelves and private bath.
The Campanile does not allow financing, so potential owners not only need to be able to comfortably afford the whopping $11,000 in monthly common charges but also to produce the full amount of the transaction in cold hard cash.
Though Garbo stayed put at the Campanile for decades, she bounced around to numerous homes in Los Angeles throughout the 1930s and ’40s, including a since razed home in Brentwood that once stood on a not-quite-one-acre parcel that was long owned by Tobey Maguire, who sold it last year for almost $11 million. As for the McGraws, they’ve maintained a bay-front home in Nantucket’s Osterville, Mass., for many years but two years ago sold a fancifully decorated oceanfront home in Gulf Stream, Fla., to Merrill Lynch managing director Keith Rowling for $8 million.