The personal collection of artists Jeanne-Claude and Christo goes on sale this week at Sotheby’s in Paris. Here is a fleeting glimpse into the private life of the couple who won renown making monumental, yet momentary, works of public art. The offerings in this sale once covered the walls of Jeanne-Claude and Christo’s New York home of 56 years, at 48 Howard Street.
Born on the same day, June 13, 1935—she in Casablanca, Morocco; he in Gabrovo, Bulgaria—the couple met in 1958 in Paris. Christo had boldly defected from the East the year before, at age 21. “I had a choice,” he told me when we met in 2016. “I could have stayed or left, so I just went.” He left everything behind and hit the road, where he knew no one and washed dishes to survive. Eventually Christo found his way to Paris, where, painting a portrait of Jeanne-Claude’s mother, he met the woman who would become his creative and life partner.