BERNICE CHRYSLER GARBISCH
Bernice Chrysler Garbisch and her sister Thelma Chrysler Foy were daughters of Walter Chrysler, founder of the automobile company. In the 1920s the family traveled regularly to Europe where Walter acquired tapestries, sculpture and paintings, and even to the Far East for Chinese porcelains. As married women both sisters became serious collectors themselves, hanging Picasso and Impressionist works above 18th century French furniture in chic city interiors designed by Robert Samuels of French & Co., Thelma at 740 Park and Bernice at the Carlyle.
Thelma died tragically young, and her collection was sold in May 1959 by Parke-Bernet Galleries in a landmark, two-part auction. Bernice went on to build with her husband, Colonel Edgar Garbisch, significant collections of European and Chinese export ceramics in addition to her paintings and furniture. In 1979 Bernice and the Colonel died within hours of each other, and her collection, too, became a two-part auction. Her Picasso, Saltimbanque with Folded Arms, fetched a then-record $3 million. Part Two was held at the couple's Pokety Farms on the Eastern Shore of Maryland - the last great 'on the premises' sale held by a major auction house. Altogether, the Garbisch Collection totaled $20,318,610 - second for any global auction only to the Robert von Hirsch sale, which had totaled $34 million two years earlier.