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Christo and Jeanne-Claude
The Gates, Central Park, New York City
Photo by Wolfgang Volz
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by Michèle C. Cone

Jeanne-Claude, Christo’s celebrated wife and collaborator who died at age 74 on Nov. 18, 2009, was a real character. Not only did she abandon her French bourgeois background and marry an artist, but she married a Bulgarian one who spoke almost no French, though his way of saying the word "chérie" to her, a soft breezy whisp of a sound like "sherie," probably helped to weaken the defenses of a spoiled young woman. No doubt she sensed that the thin young fellow with curly long hair, a pretty face and feline charm was worth a gamble. It may also be that, born on the same day and year, those two shared an unusual complicity from the start.