Class Sponsor

Year: 1932

Manufacturer: Duesenberg

Model: Model J

Engine Number: J-481

Chassis Number: 2503

Country: USA

Anne Brockinton Lee / Robert M. Lee Automobile Collection

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1932 Duesenberg Model J

Known as the “Garbo” Duesenberg, J481 was first owned by actress Greta Garbo, a movie icon during Hollywood’s Golden Age. It carries a stunning and well-balanced convertible Victoria body by the renowned coachbuilding firm Fernandez et Darrin. Exhibited at the Paris Salon of October 1932, by dealer E. Z. Sadovich, it also took part in multiple early French concours from 1932 to 1933, including: Femina L’Intransigeant (Paris, June 1932), Cannes (August 1932), and the Champs Élyséees Garden Concours (Paris, June 1933). 

The Greta Garbo provenance is traceable, supplemented by statements and memories from the luxury car dealer Edmond Z. Sadovich as well as Garbo’s former chauffeur (Garbo herself, known for her reclusiveness, retired a few years after obtaining the car). Sadovich was one of Duesenberg’s principal European distributors. 

When Sadovich was visited in 1950 by that later owner, he relayed delivering the car to Garbo and that her friend, French actress Suzy Vernon, was also in attendance. In the car’s documentation are photos of Suzy Vernon, standing next to J481 – one of these photos is identified on the reverse as at a June 1932 concours).

J481 is one of two variations of the Convertible Victoria design by Fernandez et Darrin, a firm known for its bold, glamorously sensuous but balanced designs. It was designed during the artistic heyday in Paris between WWI and WWII, and its price when new was approximately $13,000-$19,000 (chassis alone approx. $9500). E.Z. Sadovich, when visited by a later owner in 1950, stated the two Convertible Victorias were sold for $26,000 (the other went to a son of the Nizam of Hyderabad).

The car has several special features, including storage compartments built into the front fenders. The top is capable of being modified into multiple positions – top down, top up, open quarter, and closed quarter.   

Purchased in 1991 by Robert M. Lee, J481 was meticulously restored to its original specifications and colours by Lee’s private restoration shop.  


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