The famed Hollywood actress Zsa Zsa Gabor is entertaining guests once more, despite her death at 99 two years ago.
Her ninth and final husband, Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt, who was left everything upon her death, is having an auction. Von Anhalt, who famously purchased his title and once claimed he was robbed by a roving gang of lesbians, has amassed a group of items that will tantalize old Hollywood enthusiasts and also those looking for a lurid peek into Gabor’s final days.
As I pull up to Gabor’s Bel Air mansion to preview the auction of her estate, which takes place tomorrow (April 14), I’m met with a red carpet and a gallery of magazine covers featuring her. It’s a sign that what’s to come is going to be nothing but glamour and old Hollywood nostalgia.
Upon entering the house, the first thing to greet you is a large carousel-sized horse. This a theme of Gabor’s home. She and von Anhalt—who married in 1986—were equestrians who kept 40 horses on their estate in Simi Valley.
Further inspection of the home finds a portrait of Gabor with a horse, horse figurines, and larger sized statues. It’s as if she’s seen Sydney Pollack’s 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and decided she could never do that.
Perhaps the most interesting horse-related item is a leather saddle gifted to her by Ronald Reagan.
Resting in the parlor besides several horse trinkets is a stunning portrait of Gabor in a red gown. She has many portraits of her, but this one particularly striking in a Hitchcockian type of way. Gabor has a signature necklace and a light pink shawl draped across her shoulders. The oil canvas is signed “To Zsa Zsa with Love, Peter Sheil.”
The artist himself is as mysterious as the portrait he’s rendered, but he has also done portraits of society columnist Aileen Mehle and actresses Tallulah Bankhead and Kay Kendall.
Dramatic portraits are the theme of Gabor’s estate sale, which also includes a 1954 pencil on paper portrait of her 1950s lover Porfirio Rubirosa. Rubirosa was a legendary playboy who has been romantically linked to not just Gabor, but Eartha Kitt, Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford, Veronica Lake, and Eva Perón.
Gabor never married Rubirosa, but she did keep this portrait of him for decades. Another portrait of Gabor, seductively holding a rose while wearing a white mink draped over a blue gown, is by the artist Margaret Keane dated 1927. Keane is the artist whose husband Walter took credit for her “big eyes” paintings that was later the subject of the 2014 Tim Burton film, Big Eyes.
Perhaps you would like Gabor’s driver license issued in 1989. It lists her 1001 Bel Air Rd address and its issue date, Aug. 14, was the third anniversary of her marriage to von Anhalt. She is wearing a red gown, blonde hair, a necklace, and diamond earrings.
You can buy her Louis Vuitton luggage, gowns by Valentino and James Galanos, jewelry, a gold and diamond cigarette case. It’s exactly the kind of Gabor extravagance you might expect, then add a few more hundred carats.
Then there are the pill bottles. Yes, Gabor’s prescription pill bottles are up for sale. What husband wouldn’t want to auction off his late wife’s prescription bottles? (Gabor’s health travails were many: As The Daily Beast reported after her death in December 2016, she had suffered a stroke in 2005, and had been hospitalized repeatedly since 2010 after breaking her hip in a fall.)
Available for purchase are bottles of Clopidogrel, used to prevent heart attacks and strokes in persons with heart disease; Tekturna, a common blood pressure drug; and Metfromin, which is used to control high blood sugar. There are a few other bottles that have prescriptions to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Amidst the gorgeous gowns for sale and the Moet and Chandon glass set that frankly would be on display at any dinner party I threw if I could afford them, are tchotchkes like these. A driver’s license sure, but pill bottles seem rather gauche. It feeds into the invasive nature that led celebrities of Gabor’s stature to retreat from the public eye and to become veritable circus acts.
The humor of Gabor’s auction faded slightly after realizing there were such lurid items that are being sold off. I felt somewhat sorry for her memory until I stumbled across the Venetian Moor statues that populate the home. You know, statues that are “moors” in blackface.
Othello was a moor, a member of a northwestern African Muslim people of mixed Berber and Arab descent. In earlier productions of Shakespeare’s work, men would wear blackface to portray the moor. You’re reminded of these as you find comical figures adorning Gabor’s home with blackface, bright red lips, and expressive eyes.
If she was still holding onto her racist statues well until her death, then sell her pill bottles all you want. Also, I’ll take that 104 piece vintage Moet and Chandon drink set!