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The Accidental Caregiver

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Language  English
Publication date  2012
Originally published  2012
Page count  362
ISBN  9780985865405
OCLC  820878705
3.9/5 Goodreads

Publisher  Bloch-Bauer Books
Pages  362
Author  Gregor Collins
Genre  Non-fiction
Country  United States of America

Subject  Memoir, intergenerational relation, art restituion

Maria altmann the accidental caregiver stageplay teaser

The Accidental Caregiver: How I Met, Loved, and Lost Legendary Holocaust Refugee Maria Altmann is a 2012 memoir by Gregor Collins, recounting his three years as a caregiver for Maria Altmann, and a stageplay, which premiered at the Robert Moss Theater in New York City on January 26, 2015.


Maria altmann the accidental caregiver book teaser


In late 2007 a friend of Collins's, Tom Trudeau, answered an ad on Craigslist for a caregiver to a 92-year-old woman from Austria who lived in Cheviot Hills, Los Angeles. Trudeau mentioned to Collins he had taken the job, moved into her bungalow on Danalda Drive, and urged him to visit. But Collins was in pre-production on the film Night Before the Wedding, and focused on his acting career. A few weeks later, in January 2008, another caregiver quit, leaving Trudeau as the lady's sole caregiver. The family asked Trudeau if he knew anyone who could immediately fill the vacant position, and he asked Collins, who after some resistance accepted the job, at first as a temporary fill-in. The lady was Holocaust refugee Maria Altmann.

Aside from their day-to-day relationship chronicled in folksy, journal-entry-style chapters, the book depicts Maria's childhood in pre-Hitler Vienna as a member of the influential Bloch-Bauer family, and the family's relationship with the painter Gustav Klimt, who was regularly commissioned by Maria's wealthy Uncle Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer to paint portraits of his wife Adele Bloch-Bauer, a prominent Jewish patron of the arts. It also depicts Altmann's several anecdotes about her meetings, connections and relationships with eclectic notables such as Joan Sutherland, Walter Slezak, Hedy Lamarr, Placido Domingo, Danny Thomas, Gary Cooper, Ezio Pinza, Paul Henreid and others, and Altmann and her husband Fritz's harrowing escape from Austria during the Anschluss, their subsequent journey through Holland, England and Massachusetts, and their eventual nesting in Los Angeles.

In 2012, a year and a half after Altmann's death, Collins published his book to commemorate the 37 months they spent together, meticulously detailing their chance meeting and unusual bond, culminating in Altmann's death in early 2011. The self-published book received favorable reviews stateside, as well as in the German and Austrian press, and has appeared prominently in a number of categories on Amazon including European Art History, Art History, and History and Criticism.

The book was also sold at the Neue Galerie New York, where Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I remains in permanent collection.

In 2015 a translated version of the book was published in Poland.


The Accidental Caregiver stageplay world premiered at the Robert Moss Theater in New York City on January 26, 2015, and was directed by British theatre director Alice Kornitzer. The play was also presented as a staged reading at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York on June 25, 2015. Directed by Collins, Actor Christian Scheider and Actor and Museum of the Moving Image (New York City) founder Rochelle Slovin, read the parts of Gregor and Maria, respectively.


  • The Accidental Caregiver, Bloch-Bauer Books, ISBN 9780985865405
  • "Kobieta ze złota. Moje życie z Marią Altmann", Wydawnictwo Replika, ISBN 978-83-7674-446-9
  • References

    The Accidental Caregiver Wikipedia