Few residences retain the glamour of a time long gone quite like the former New York City home of one of old Hollywood’s brightest stars.
Greta Garbo, the stunning Swedish-born actress who graced the big screen in the 1920s and 1930s, lived in a swanky Midtown East suite at The Campanile building from 1953 until she died in 1990 — and we’re here to take you on an extended tour of the apartment where the silver screen legend lived for nearly 40 years.
Known for her melancholic, somber persona, the Academy Award-nominated actress originally purchased the posh pad with breathtaking water views because it reminded her of her beloved homeland, and spent the better part of her lifetime in the stylish apartment.
Located across the street from the upscale River House co-op, here’s the full scoop on Garbo’s former luxurious fifth-floor condo that is situated directly above the East River. We’ll also be taking a close look at Greta Garbo’s house in Los Angeles, a unique abode custom-designed for one of Hollywood’s most reclusive stars.
Greta Garbo called the apartment home for almost 40 years
The celebrated actress who starred in movies such as A Woman of Affairs and The Mysterious Lady retired from acting at the age of 35 after appearing in 28 films.
And although she was one of the most glamorous actresses of her time, Garbo never married, had no children, and lived alone as an adult.
The deeply private starlet spent most of her adult life — nearly 40 years — living in her Midtown East home in Manhattan.
“I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said, ‘I want to be left alone.’ There is all the difference,” Garbo once said.
As it turns out, living alone was a treat thanks to her stylish condo, located in The Campanile building at 450 East 52nd Street in Manhattan.
In 1953, the Hollywood legend purchased Suite Number 5 in the high-end co-op building in Manhattan’s east side. And it became such a big part of her life that she never sold it.
After her death in 1990 at the age of 84, the iconic actress left her entire estate — including her beloved NYC apartment — to her niece, Gray Reisfeld.
When Reisfeld passed away in 2017, the swanky suite was purchased by John McGraw and Marjorie McGraw, after spending more than half a century being a part of Garbo’s estate.
SEE ALSO: The Dakota, NYC’s First Luxury Apartment Building and Its Many Famous Residents
Given its star power and legacy, the stunning suite sold for well over its initial asking price of $5.95 million. Greta Garbo’s apartment at The Campanile prompted a bidding war, leading the McGraws to pay $8.5 million (43% over ask) for the co-op back in December 2017.
As the former chairman of the publishing house McGraw-Hill, John and his wife renovated the kitchen, dining room, and HVAC system but otherwise kept the graceful essence of Garbo throughout the apartment.
The Campanile apartment was listed for sale in 2022
The gorgeous fifth-floor unit in The Campanile has been looking for new owners in recent years.
The upscale co-op was built in 1927 and pre-dates the United Nations building and The FDR Drive. The Campanile has 14 stories and offers 16 units of prime Manhattan real estate, with Garbo’s former home standing out as the crown jewel of the building due to its famous longtime resident.
Listing agent Brian K. Lewis of Compass says Garbo was drawn to it due to the water views from her stunning suite.
“She 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,” Lewis shared.
But there’s much more to love about this classy city residence.
Initially listed for $7.25 million (with the price later dropped to $6,250,000), the 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom home oozes grace and elegance much like its famous former owner.
Featuring a private elevator lobby opening into an expansive formal central gallery, the floor-through residence features a spectacular L-shaped living room, with a den area and a working gas fireplace.
Including timeless wood paneling and large picture windows, the luxury condo offers jaw-dropping views of the cityscape to the south and east and majestic river views.
SEE ALSO: 5 New York Castles That Will Make You Feel Like You’ve Traveled to Europe
Not to mention, the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets seen on the balcony outside the French doors.
At the opposite end of the floor-through residence is a large kitchen featuring a Miele side-by-side refrigerator/freezer and a Thermador 5-burner (with griddle) and oven.
Keeping things classy, the river-view primary bedroom features walls and a headboard adorned in Garbo’s favorite rose-hued Fortuni silk.
The stylish unit is adorned with countless sophisticated details, seemingly giving away that it was once home to Hollywood royalty.
Greta Garbo’s house in Los Angeles is just as unique
Well before the starlet moved into The Campanile building in New York, the reclusive Hollywood star owned a rather unique adobe-style home in Los Angeles — which she once shared with then-boyfriend Leopold Stokowski.
Custom built for the silver screen legend back in 1937, the trophy property sits high atop a hillside (in the hills of Beverly Crest) with stunning 180-degree views spanning from downtown Los Angeles to the ocean.
The adobe-style home was custom-built for Garbo at the height of her success in the late 1930s and was later completely reimagined for modern-day living.
Sporting a distinct adobe-style design with flowing, curved lines, and a stucco facade, Garbo’s former L.A. home was completely reimagined in 2006 by well-known real-estate flipper, designer, and TV host Nicole Sassman.
The home’s transformation: double the size, double the windows
The silver screen star, best known for her performances in timeless movies like Ninotchka, Anna Christie, and Mata Hari, was notoriously private.
So much so that the architect’s guiding principle when envisioning her Beverly Crest abode was to fulfill Garbo’s most famous wish: “I just want to be left alone.”
He incorporated towering exterior walls in the design and small windows, sacrificing the hilltop lot’s beautiful views in exchange for the elusive starlet’s much-desired privacy.
But the property has since seen significant changes.
The estate was reimagined in 2006 by noted designer Nicole Sassman — who also famously owned and revamped the Barbie Penthouse (and wrote a book about it).
“The first time I saw the house, I couldn’t believe that it had been sitting in such a poor state for so long,” Sassman told Elle Decor.
“But I immediately saw how the home could be turned into something really special if I just let its glamorous past guide the renovation.”
Sassman’s renovation project saw the former Greta Garbo estate double in size (it was initially a 2,000-square-foot home, now boasting 4,675 sq. ft. of living space) and turned the boxed-in abode into an open space masterpiece.
SEE ALSO: The iconic Beverly House: where Jackie O & JFK honeymooned, ‘The Bodyguard’ was filmed, and where Beyonce shot ‘Black is King’
The silver screen star’s former house is now a vibrant, light-filled 6-bedroom abode
Today, the property that was once home to one of Hollywood’s most reclusive stars is warm and inviting, with rich woods and thoughtful stonework.
With a total of 6 bedrooms and 6 baths, the glam estate with a 90210 zip code spans 4,675 square feet and was recently floated on the market, sporting a $12 million price tag (the listing was later taken down).
The rooms are grand in scale, with the living areas open and flowing, creating harmony with the home’s spectacular pool and abundant outdoor spaces.
Heading outside, the home’s spectacular pool and outdoor spaces take full advantage of the highly desirable location and open up to 180-degree views that span from downtown Los Angeles to the ocean.
The former Greta Garbo estate sits in the coveted Beverly Crest neighborhood in the Santa Monica Mountains, in the Westside area of L.A.
Once dubbed “the balcony” of Beverly Hills, Beverly Crest boasts the ever-desirable 90210 zip code, even though it is actually part of the city of Los Angeles. The area is known for its beautiful homes, stunning views, and privacy.
*Editor’s note: This article was initially published as a news story when Greta Garbo’s apartment was first listed for sale in mid-2022. Soon after, the actress’ house in Los Angeles also hit the market and was covered in a separate news piece. The original article was updated to reflect both properties’ current status and to consolidate the information in one place in order to better serve our readers.
More stories you might like
Bob Hope’s house in Palm Springs, an architectural masterpiece
The storied history of Villa Carlotta in Los Angeles, an Old Hollywood treasure
Bing Crosby’s Estate — That Once Welcomed JFK and Marilyn Monroe — Sells for $4.15 Million
The Remarkable Sheats-Goldstein Residence in LA: Past, Present and Future