Brooklyn mourns death of celebrity tailor and Holocaust survivor Martin Greenfield

Martin Greenfield, renowned tailor and Holocaust survivor, died on March 20, 2024 at the age of 95.
Photo courtesy of Tod Greenfield

Martin Greenfield, a Holocaust survivor and tailor to celebrities, athletes, U.S. presidents and many others, died Wednesday on Long Island at age 95. 

Known to the world as the talented and expert tailor who measured and fit suits to a suite of celebrities, presidents and other politicians, Greenfield “died comfortably,” according to an Instagram post from his sons. 

“Martin Greenfield survived the atrocities of the Holocaust with his humanity intact, living his life delighted to meet everyone he encountered with his infectious smile,” the post went on to say.

Greenfield was born to a Jewish family on Aug. 9, 1928, in an area in Europe that is now Ukraine. At age 14, he and his family were imprisoned at the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. His parents, two sisters, brother and grandparents were killed, but the young Greenfield was spared, as he worked in the camp’s alterations shop, fixing Nazi troops’ shirts, according to the Daily Mail

“The pain is still in my heart about my family,” Greenfield said in one of his company’s videos. “I still dream about my family, like they are alive. But on the outside, you will never know.”

Greenfield, originally born Maxmilian Grünfeld, spent a year and two months at Auschwitz before his liberation from the death camp. When World War ll ended, he eventually left Europe and moved to the United States in 1947, which is when he began a successful career in tailoring, utilizing the trade skills he learned at Auschwitz. 

Determined and hardworking, Greenfield’s first job was as a floor boy at the GGG clothing factory in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As he worked, he attended night school to learn English, became a U.S. citizen and went on to receive several promotions at GGG. 

In 1977, Greenfield purchased the factory and re-named it Martin Greenfield Clothiers, which is open to this day. 

Over the decades, Greenfield’s clientele ran the gamut from celebrities and athletes such as the late Paul Newman and actor Jimmy Fallon to U.S. presidents including Barack Obama and Donald Trump, according to NBC News

Former President Dwight Eisenhower, who was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in Europe when Auschwitz was liberated, later became one of Greenfield’s most iconic clients. 

“I was liberated by Eisenhower,” Greenfield said. “General Eisenhower came in when I was 15 and a half years old. And when they walked in, I shook his hand, crying.”

It was not only presidents who Greenfield dressed up in the political scene. Other elected officials he worked with include former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former New York City Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Ed Koch, all of them a mix of Democrats and Republicans alike. 

According to the Daily Mail article, Greenfield also created the famous red suit Joaquin Phoenix wore in the 2019 movie, “The Joker.” 

“Martin Greenfield worked at the factory for 71 years. He loved meeting, dressing and befriending world leaders, celebrities, athletes and everyone else,” his sons wrote on Instagram. “May his memory be a blessing to everyone who had the pleasure to meet him.”

According to the New York Times, Greenfield is survived by his wife, Arlene, his sons and four grandchildren. He lived in North Hills in Nassau County, Long Island. 

This story first appeared on amNewYork Metro.