Brad Grey, the late Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, epitomised the Hollywood dream, rising from blue-collar roots in the Bronx to the pinnacle of one of Hollywood’s most eminent studios. A beloved figure in Los Angeles and beyond, he left an indelible mark on film and television. ‘People always say, “It must be so difficult,”’ Grey once mused of his prodigious career. ‘But it’s really not. You trust your instincts.’
Under Grey’s guidance, Paramount gained market leadership and produced films such as An Inconvenient Truth, Up in the Air, There Will Be Blood, and True Grit, regularly achieving Academy Award nominations and wins in the process.
When he moved to Los Angeles in 1981, Grey went straight to the Beverly Hills Hotel, the venerable meeting place for the most powerful names in entertainment. ‘I couldn’t afford it,’ he admitted, ‘but I stayed at the hotel. The tradition of the Beverly Hills Hotel always mattered to me.’ Throughout his life, Grey held onto this unshakable belief in the mythic power of Hollywood and the importance of its cultural legacy. As The New York Times observed, ‘More than many of his studio counterparts, [he] upheld the pageantry of Hollywood.’
Before joining Paramount in 2005, Grey worked alongside the talent manager Bernie Brillstein, and in 1992 became a co-founder of the entertainment management firm Brillstein-Grey. Blending the role of traditional Hollywood agent with the entrepreneurial spirit of a producer, Brillstein-Grey fostered both talent and creative projects. Perhaps most notable was Grey’s role in producing The Sopranos, the groundbreaking David Chase mob series that ushered in a new golden age of television.
Beyond his record in film and television, Grey is also remembered as a philanthropist and community advocate. In 2013 he was appointed to the board of trustees of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and served in additional leadership roles at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, Project A.L.S., New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and other institutions.
Grey exhibited a superb collection of fine art and design at his residence in Holmby Hills. The producer saw art as an integral component of the Hollywood spirit
In his personal life Grey was a noted tastemaker, and at his elegant residence in Holmby Hills he exhibited a superb collection of fine art and design. He saw art as an integral component of the Hollywood spirit and, as such, acquired an important collection of works by artists such as Agnes Martin, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Prince, Cy Twombly, Ed Ruscha, and Richard Serra.
Also central to his collection were modern works of furniture and design by Jean-Michel Frank, Jean Royère, Alberto and Diego Giacometti, Francois-Xavier Lalanne, and others. Taken as a whole, these pieces demonstrated the connoisseurship of a man fully immersed in the creative process.
Highlights in the June Design sale in New York include Pierre Chareau’s pair of armchairs, Model ‘MF732’ (below), from the Grand Hôtel de Tours, circa 1924 (estimate: $200,000-300,000), and Francois-Xavier Lalanne’s Singe Avisé, circa 2005 (estimate: $100,000-150,000).
Additional works from the collection will be included in a dedicated sale of Important Works by Alberto and Diego Giacometti later in 2018.
Grey forever remained characteristically humble about his many achievements. ‘The only thing you can hope for in one of these jobs,’ he said of his time at Paramount, ‘is that when the next guy’s sitting here, they look back and say, “Wow, that was a great period. They made some extraordinary pictures.”’