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Holocaust survivor and presidents’ tailor Martin Greenfield dies: media

Holocaust survivor and presidents' tailor Martin Greenfield dies: media
Source: Video Screenshot

Martin Greenfield, a Holocaust survivor whose custom-suit empire counted US presidents and celebrities among its clientele, died on Wednesday aged 95, according to the New York Times.

Widely considered one of the best tailors in the United States, Greenfield believed clothing had saved his life.

Born Maximilian Grunfeld to a Jewish family from a part of Czechoslovakia that is now in Ukraine, he was imprisoned at Auschwitz as a teenager and tasked with washing the guards’ clothes.

After being beaten for accidentally ripping a Nazi’s shirt, he mended it and wore it underneath his uniform for the remainder of his time at the concetration camp, where it was mistaken as signifying special privileges.

“The day I first wore that shirt was the day I learned clothes possess power,” he wrote in his memoir “Measure of a Man: From Auschwitz Survivor to Presidents’ Tailor”.

Greenfield was freed in the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz, which was supervised by then US president Dwight D. Eisenhower, who later commissioned the survivor to make his suits.

At the age of 19, Greenfield boarded a ship to New York with just $10 in his pocket.

Within weeks he had changed his name and found work at a Brooklyn clothing factory.

Three decades later in 1977, he bought the factory, renamed it after himself and proceeded to transform it into a New York City institution.

His handsewn suits became a status symbol, and his patrons included film, music and sports stars, such as Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman, Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant and the mobster Meyer Lansky.

His business also clothed six presidents, including the last three: Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

HBO contracted him to make the 1920s-style outfits for crime drama “Boardwalk Empire” and other TV and movie contracts followed.

According to the Times, his most recognizable creation may have been the red suit and contrasting orange vest sported by Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker.

In recent years, Greenfield handed over his business to his sons Tod and Jay, retiring to the North Shore of Long Island.

On Wednesday, Greenfield died in the hospital, his son Tod told the Times.

He is survived by his sons, his wife Arlene and four grandchildren.



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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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