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Andrea Klepetar-Fallek Collection

In the Dachau concentration camp in Germany, there are two words written on the east wall in English, French, German, Hebrew and Russian. They simply say, “Never Again.” It is intended to be an everlasting reminder of the atrocities committed during that ghastly conflict in the hopes that such horrors are never repeated.

The unspeakable barbarism of the Second World War and Holocaust are now nearly three-quarters of a century in the past, and the number of those with first-hand memories of that maelstrom has dwindled to just a few.

That’s why their stories are so important.

Andrea Klepetar-Fallek was born into a wealthy Jewish family in Vienna in 1920, and she was just 18 when Kristallnacht, the German pogrom against the Jews in Germany and Austria, took place in November 1938. That event and those that followed would forever change her life.

Andrea and her family were forced to flee Nazi-occupied Vienna, and she later would escape from a concentration camp in Italy. She moved to Israel when it was founded in 1948, and a year later she went to Argentina. In 1972, she would have to leave her home again, fleeing the Peronist regime. She would marry four times, learn eight languages and live on four continents. And she would eventually amass a stunning art collection. At 98 years of age, Andrea sat down to write her memoir. She simply called it My Story.

Andrea’s first husband was killed in the war, and she spent the last year of that conflict in Rome. There she connected with — and married — her late husband’s cousin, Buba. It was he that first shared her interest in paintings, sculpture, architecture and history. Andrea recalled, “We could lie on a bench in the Sistine Chapel looking at the ceilings for hours and always discovering something new.”

She eventually divorced Buba, and her third husband, Juan Klepetar, died suddenly in 1970. At age 57 Andrea married Fred Fallek, a German Jew who was also a Holocaust survivor and moved to the United States. Fred had arrived in America penniless, but he founded a chemical import firm, building it into a company that would eventually sell for $90 million. Fred and Andrea moved into the Ritz Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and set out to develop their art collection. They traveled often in Europe and got to know the major players and dealers in the world of collectible art.

The couple purchased two works from dealer Ernst Beyeler that would become cornerstones of their collection: Claude Monet’s Charing Cross Bridge (1903) and Pierre Bonnard’s Femme se déshabillant (c. 1930). Much of their large collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures was acquired through their tradition of giving art gifts to each other for birthdays and wedding anniversaries.

Andrea continued to live at the Fifth Avenue address for 36 years after Fred’s passing in 1983, and the Monet always hung proudly in the living room. She decided that after her death the collection would be sold, with the proceeds going to fund the charities she had supported throughout her life — particularly the Weizmann Institute in Israel. Andrea passed away in May 2019. She is remembered as an optimist who embraced every challenge as an opportunity. In a positive turn, Andrea's treasured Monet sold for $24 million at Sotheby’s recent Impressionist and Modern auction in New York.

The Impressionist and Modern works in the Klepetar-Fallek Collection have been described as “sensual” and “toying with the edge of figuration and distraction.” Along with the Monet and Bonnard pieces, they include such notable works as Cheval échappé by Degas, Vase de fleurs by Vuillard, Forêt d’automne by Denis and the stunning Deux femmes en promenade by Renoir.

Sotheby’s Home also lists several pieces from the collection for sale, including a pair of Queen Anne hand-carved side chairs, a tabletop and desktop accessories from Tiffany & Co, a Georgian-style kettle stand side table, a Queen Anne-style writing/side table and several collections of miniature-style portraits.