Chara Schreyer, 75, a nearly 50-year resident of Tiburon, passed away on February 19, 2023, from cancer. A visionary art collector, Chara was known for her dedication to her family and friends, her philanthropy, and for the extraordinary intellectual and artistic passion that built the Schreyer Collection, one of the world’s leading collections of modern and contemporary art.
Chara was born in 1947 in Münchberg, Bavaria. When she was five, the family immigrated to Los Angeles. Chara moved to the Bay Area in 1965 upon matriculating at the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in the History of Art. She moved to Tiburon in 1976, when she and her then-husband Gary Schreyer purchased the home that would be her primary residence until the time of her passing. It was there that Chara would raise her two beloved daughters, Justine and Natalie, and form a community of deeply cherished, lifelong friends and colleagues.
It was at her Tiburon residence that Chara embarked on the creation of her pioneering art collection. She also acquired a rare custom home on the Belvedere Lagoon created by influential mid-century developer Joseph Eichler and iconic architect A. Quincy Jones. She dedicated four years to restoring and renovating the architectural gem, ensuring its legacy on the lagoon. Over the past decade, Chara generously opened her residences for tours of the collection, personally leading over 200 tours for local groups, global museum boards, university groups, and professional institutions ranging from the Guggenheim to the Centre Pompidou.
Two books have been published on the Schreyer Collection. “Art House” (Assouline, 2014), chronicles the forty-year collaboration of Chara and designer Gary Hutton, and “Making Strange” (DelMonico/Artbook DAP, 2021), provides a scholarly examination of the collection featuring essays by leading global curators.
Chara’s legacy of philanthropy and education will endure through the many institutions and organizations she supported in the spheres of art, education, journalism, and health. She was a longtime trustee of SFMOMA, as well as a trustee of MOCA Los Angeles and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Chara also supported the Contemporary Jewish Museum, where she was a board member and helped provide leadership for the Daniel Libeskind-designed expansion in 2008. In the realm of health care, Chara’s milestone contributions include the UCSF Justine K. Schreyer Diabetes Clinical Care Center, the UCSF Justine K. Schreyer Endowed Chair in Diabetes Research, and the San Francisco General Hospital expansion campaign. She was also benefactor of the Belvedere-Tiburon Library expansion campaign.
In the spirit of one of her art heroes, Marcel Duchamp, Chara transformed life into art. Driven by an indefatigable curiosity and passion for the aesthetic, she brought her avant-garde sensibility not just to art, but to design, fashion, entertaining, and beyond, enlivening everything she touched.
Chara is survived by her husband, Gordon Freund; her sister, Rose Roven of Tiburon; two daughters, Justine Schreyer Lewin of Los Angeles and Natalie Schreyer of Washington, D.C.; and four grandchildren.
A private service was held in Los Angeles on February 22nd at Mount Sinai Memorial. The family is deeply grateful to all the friends and family who have expressed their heartfelt condolences, and request that charitable donations be made to a nonprofit of their choosing or one that Chara supported. Suggestions include: Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, mskcc.org; Visionary Women, visionarywomen.com; and American Friends of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, afipo.org.