Barbra Streisand needs no introduction. Aside from her work on the big screen, the powerhouse performer is also a singer, producer, and director — and that doesn’t even graze the surface of her success. According to Biography, she’s “the highest-selling female recording artist of all time,” with her career spanning a whopping six decades of chart-topping albums — casually making music history by doing so (via Reuters).
Perhaps Streisand’s success can be attributed to her strong personality. Throughout her career, she’s been famously dubbed as challenging to work with, criticized for being so set in her ways. “So she’s a perfectionist,” concedes music director Michael Kosarin to The New York Times. “Most geniuses are perfectionists. Look at Steve Jobs.” Yet that perfectionism has kept her in demand professionally, and, as of this writing, Streisand has amassed a sizable fortune, with Forbes estimating her net worth at a pretty $400 million.
So, with all that dough, how does the “Yentl” star spend it all? Well, it turns out, she’s well-known for being a collector of rare finds and sought-after antiques, or, at least, she once was. As she told House Beautiful in 1974, “I really don’t care for possessions now — I find them an obligation, and not necessary to my emotional health.” Let’s find out the unexpected ways Barbra Streisand spends her millions.
Barbra Streisand takes shopping at a mall to a whole new level
Ah, the mall. A quintessential part of American culture. In their heyday, many would flock to malls not just for the consumer experience, but to meet with friends or grab a bite to eat. For Barbra Streisand, she doesn’t even have to leave her own home. The “Funny Girl” actor is notorious for her love of collecting quirky objects, so she figured: why not find a place to store them all?
As she revealed to Harper’s Bazaar, Streisand felt inspiration strike after a trip to the decorative arts museum, Winterthur, in Delaware, which included “a series of early 19th-century shops” used as displays. “Instead of just storing my things in my basement, I can make a street of shops and display them,” she explained. Sure enough, Streisand bolted home to her $100 million Malibu compound and got to work. The result? Per Harper’s Bazaar, the star’s “mall” boasts an antique shop, a gift shop, an “antique clothes shop,” a doll shop, and even a “sweet shop.”
One may wonder: does Barbra Streisand have cash registers for her personal playground? Of course not! “You can do that if it’s your own mall,” she so wisely pointed out to the mag. Always the entertainer, Streisand is known to invite fellow A-listers, such as Lady Gaga, Ryan Murphy, Kelly Preston, and John Travolta. The best part? She even has a waiting bench for men to sit on while their better halves shop away (via Harper’s Bazaar).
Her collection of Art Deco and Art Nouveau furnishings
Barbra Streisand has always been a collector. During an interview with House Beautiful in 1974, the “Funny Girl” revealed that she began her quest for collecting antiques and vintage pieces in her teens, scouring vintage shops in her native New York. As she grew her professional career, her personal collection — and taste — began to flourish as well.
As she writes in “My Passion for Design,” Streisand began to buy Art Nouveau furniture after receiving her first paycheck from Broadway. She references an Emile Galle cabinet that was so big; she had nowhere to put it in her then-modest home, deciding to pay for it in installments and store it in the shop’s basement. “I had never seen furniture like this,” she recalled, describing the “Tiffany lamps… Art Nouveau bronzes [and] Vienna Secession pewter.” Dubbing these finds as “eye candy,” the actor claims that they “nourish [her] soul” to this day.
Per The New York Times, while Streisand’s love for Art Nouveau may still be apparent after all these decades, her obsession with the geometric shapes of the Art Deco movement also began in the mid-’70s and ended in 1994, after she spent five years renovating her home at the time to match the specific style. Writing in her book that the process was an “ordeal,” she notes, “by the time it was over, I never wanted to look at Art Deco again.”
Barbra Streisand loves collecting artwork from influential painters
Much like Barbra Streisand began collecting specific styles of antique furnishings when she got her big break on Broadway, she also did the same with artwork. As she revealed during an interview with The New York Times, in 1964, after her “Funny Girl” debut on Broadway, she meticulously saved enough dough “from her $2,500-a-week salary to buy a small [Henri] Matisse.” This, she confirms, was her “first major purchase.”
Over the years, the legendary A-lister has collected a vast amount of artwork from influential painters, including 1885’s “Peasant Woman With Child on her Lap” by Vincent Van Gogh, which she “[loaned] to a museum.” It pays off to be a collector of the luxurious arts, too, as her gems sell for a pretty penny once she feels it’s time to move on. As she revealed to The New York Times, she purchased a Gustav Klimt piece in 1969 for $17,000, selling it “years later for $650,000.” Similarly, according to Reuters, Streisand was also selling a Kees van Dongen painting worth $200,000 at an auction in 2009.
Interestingly, it looks like the singer may use paintings as the centerpieces for her interior design inspirations, too. As Streisand explained in “My Passion for Design,” one “rare oil portrait” she bought by Paul César Helleu was actually purchased before she began designing her Malibu home, always knowing she wanted to do the room it sits in “in that blue, with brown wood.”
She spends and earns millions by trading stock
It’s no secret that Barbra Streisand has often been referred to as a diva. And while some claims about her antics are truly bonkers — such as the time employees at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand alleged that she refused to make eye contact with anybody (via Entertainment Weekly) — she’s definitely business savvy. Surprisingly, the “Hello, Dolly” actor makes a killing by trading stock.
According to a 2020 piece by The New York Times, Streisand gets up almost every morning at 6:30 a.m. “to check the opening” at the New York stock market. This is no new hobby for the performer, either. In fact, in 1999, she told Fortune magazine that she made “$130,000 on eBay stock in just one month.” Always the savvy money-magnet, she explained to the outlet that it just made sense for her to trade, explaining, “I’m making an album [now], but I can make an album at the same time as I can trade stocks.” Fair enough.
So, how does she pick where to invest her hard-earned dollars? Per Fortune, she claims she finds inspiration in “daily life,” using her Starbucks stock as an example because she “[goes] to Starbucks every day.” Streisand is known to share her plethora of knowledge, as well, and helps those closest to her. In 1998, her “good friend” Donna Karan gave her $1 million to invest. The result? Thanks to Streisand, the fashion designer walked away with “nearly double” at $1.8 million.
Barbra Streisand cloned her dog
In a February 2018 Variety interview, Barbra Streisand casually dropped the fact that she had her dog cloned. Of course, the world went nuts. Less than a week later, the “Yentl” star was penning a piece for The New York Times, explaining her reasoning behind such a bizarre decision.
“I was so devastated by the loss of my dear Samantha,” wrote Streisand of her pup, which she had for 14 years, adding, “I just wanted to keep her with me in some way.” After discovering that a friend of hers had cloned their own dog, the prolific actress recalls being “impressed.” After going to the vet while “Sammie” was still alive, Streisand got the doc to take “some cells from inside her cheek and the skin on her tummy,” sending those to ViaGen Pets. The cost for such a procedure? National Geographic estimates that cloning your pooch comes with a hefty $100,000 price tag — mere peanuts for Streisand.
To the actor’s surprise, after receiving a call from the lab, Streisand didn’t end up with one cloned dog — but four. While “the runt of the litter died,” three pups were still a bit much for the star, so she opted to give one away, and kept two. “You can clone the look of a dog, but you can’t clone the soul,” she wrote for The New York Times. “Still, every time I look at their faces, I think of my Samantha…and smile.”
Barbra Streisand once lived on the legendary Carolwood Drive
Los Angeles’ Carolwood Drive may not mean much to some, but it’s home to a handful of the wealthiest people on the planet. Located within the Platinum Triangle (which USA Today explains are the homes situated within Holmby Hills, Bel Air, and Beverly Hills), Carolwood Drive is “one of the most expensive streets on Earth” (via Forbes) — and it’s also where Barbra Streisand once called home.
According to the Barbra Streisand Archives Gallery, the star initially began renting the pad in 1969, eventually deciding to buy it. As she told the Los Angeles Times, the home was originally built in 1929 in a Mediterranean style, yet Streisand elected to renovate it as she “[doesn’t] like Mediterranean architecture, unless it’s in the Mediterranean.” Streisand eventually sold her home, and in 2000, her “Mon Reve” estate on 301 Carolwood Drive was demolished.
Carolwood Drive has been home to some pretty legendary stars throughout the years. According to L.A. Biz, the street once saw Frank Sinatra, Gregory Peck, Clark Gable, Elvis Presley, and Sonny and Cher all casually basking in the California sun. If that’s not all, Walt Disney was also once a homeowner there, building “a miniature working replica of the steam train that runs through Disneyland.” Per L.A. Biz, it was on Carolwood where he found inspiration to make the “visionary plans for Disneyland.”
Barbra Streisand gave Disney stock to George Floyd's daughter
George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, sparked a wave of protests across the country, giving international attention to the Black Lives Matter movement and spreading a wave of activism across the globe. Many of the biggest names in the entertainment industry spoke out, as well, from Paul McCartney‘s statement supporting racial equality to street artist Banksy releasing a new piece that showed a memorial of a silhouette of a man next to a candle setting the American flag on fire. Barbra Streisand also spoke out and even took things a step further.
On June 13, 2020, Floyd’s daughter, Gianna “GiGi” Floyd, posted to her Instagram page that the “Hello, Dolly” actor sent her Disney stock, along with two albums, “My Name Is Barbra” and “Color Me Barbra.” The youngster thanked Streisand, writing, “I am now a Disney Stockholder thanks to you.”
It’s uncertain how many shares Streisand gave, yet CNBC’s Make It reveals that stock in the Walt Disney Company can be quite profitable. As the outlet notes, “If you invested $1,000 in Disney 10 years ago, that investment would now be worth more than $4,600 as of Feb. 25, 2020, for a total return of around 370%.”
Barbra Streisand's junk is another person's treasure
In 2020, Barbra Streisand gushed to The New York Times, “I love things that are beautiful.” She certainly puts her money where her mouth is, decorating her luxurious homes with endless collections of art, decadent furniture, and her expensive vintage clothing collection. “My entire life has been a quest for beauty,” she thoughtfully explains.
What may surprise you, however, is the admission of her “junk” room. So, what is that, exactly? In 1974, Babs took House Beautiful on a tour of her California home at the time, showcasing everything inside. As she took the magazine into her solarium, she revealed she calls it her “junk room.” She explained: “I guess I’m sort of a dichotomy,” noting, “I love precision and perfection, but I also like junky things too.” In the room were her various memories from the movies she’s been in, along with “castoffs,” including “her leaded beveled glass collection,” and a sofa from her “dressing room on the set of ‘Clear Day.'”
While one may think that a single “junk room” would be enough for anyone, Streisand remarkably had two in her mansion — most certainly a cinema lover’s dream. Sadly, Streisand has also revealed the poignant reasoning for her obsession with collecting, and it’s connected with the loss of her father when she was merely 15 months old. “Sometimes I think it’s all connected to the loss of a parent,” she mused in her book, “My Passion for Design.”
She has an 18th-century-style barn on her compound
Barbra Streisand’s $100 million Malibu compound is a design nut’s dream. And while the completely over-the-top mall in its basement is oft-talked about (via Harper’s Bazaar), there’s another addition to her estate that’s, well, quirky.
“I want to tell you about my latest project,” Streisand proudly writes in her book, “My Passion for Design,” detailing her desire for an “elegant barn.” As she explains, the thespian has “always loved barns” and would regularly stop to look at old farmhouses while going on her antiquing runs “along Route 7 in Connecticut.” In the early ’90s, when her sudden interest in 18th-century antiques was piqued, she decided to blend her two passions. Noting that the two styles are certainly “opposing,” she was determined to make it work.
The result is a beautiful, red and white barn, complete with a chicken coop that “[gives her] fresh eggs every morning.” As time went on, she only added to her barn, and as Harper’s Bazaar details, it now even has a 4,000-pound water wheel. “We treat the barn like a B&B, as if we went away for the weekend, but we don’t have to drive,” she told the outlet. Sure enough, the space does indeed seem like the spot for the perfect staycation, and as The New York Times details, it even boasts a frozen yogurt machine, along with “a napping room.”
Barbra Streisand has her own charity
With all her lavish spending to make her estate as opulent as possible, it’s worth mentioning that Barbra Streisand does give back, too. According to Elect Women, the director founded The Streisand Foundation in 1986, remarkably “[making] gifts totaling over $18 million to organizations working to support environmental issues, women’s issues, civil rights and race relations, AIDs research and children and youth-related issues.”
Per Philanthropy, Babs’ friend, Margery Tabankin, has been the executive director of her charity since 1987, and she explains that the actor remains extremely involved in the business. “She makes every decision, whether it’s for $50 or $5 million,” Tabankin revealed, also explaining that the pair turned their sights to women’s issues in 2007, after Streisand discovered “that 50 years of the medical research used for treating women was actually done on male patients.”
So, how else does Streisand pick what causes demand her attention? As she told the Harvard Business Review, her philanthropic pursuits are merely fueled by whatever she’s passionate about. “Through my foundation, I make many small grants throughout the year, but I usually have one priority area where a majority of the grant making is focused,” she noted.
Ultimately, Barbra Streisand understands that her prized possessions aren't 'forever'
Considering Barbra Streisand once had quite literally two rooms to store her “junk” back in the mid-1970s (via House Beautiful), it’s difficult even to fathom how many more treasures she’s accrued throughout the decades. As such, it’s no wonder a diva such as herself needs a little bit of a therapeutic purge.
As reported by The Guardian in 2009, Streisand auctioned “more than 400 personal items” that she gathered over the course of 67 years, spread out between three houses in Beverly Hills, Malibu, and New York City. According to the Julien’s Auctions listing page, there were countless gems from the thespian’s collection, including “some of her first antique purchases” when she was still an up-and-comer in New York. Of course, some of Streisand’s memorable movie costumes were available to scoop up, too, including costumes from “Funny Lady,” “Yentl,” “Meet the Fockers,” and “The Way We Were.”
Christie’s reported the total amount sold was $2,986,810, and, of course, proceeds went towards The Streisand Foundation. “What good does it do in storage,” Streisand explained (via The Guardian). “Let someone else enjoy it. These things, they’re not forever. We pass them on and reap the benefits for something important.”
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