Christo, the primary artist and designer of the duo's projects, was born 13 June 1935 in Gabrovo, Bulgaria. His father, Vladimir Javacheff, was a scientist, and his mother, Tsveta Dimitrova, was a secretary at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia. Artists from the Academy who visited his family observed Christo's artistic talent while he was still of a very young age.
In his youth, Christo had an interest in theatre and staged Shakespeare plays. In 1953, he was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts, but was disappointed by the strict socialist curriculum imposed by the ruling Communist Party at the time. He studied art at the Sofia Academy from 1952 to 1956, and for another year in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic) until 1957, when he escaped the Communist State by hiding himself in a truck transporting medicine to Austria.
In February 1964, Christo and Jeanne-Claude arrived in New York City. After a brief return to Europe, they settled in the United States in September of that year. Although poor and lacking fluency in the English language, Christo displayed his work in several galleries, including the well-known Castelli Gallery in New York and Gallery Schmela in Düsseldorf, Germany. Christo began to wrap storefronts which he had built to scale. Sale of the storefronts helped pay off debts and financed larger projects.
In 1959 Christo changed his approach to wrapping objects. Rather than covering the wrapping material with glue and sand, he left it unaltered. In 1960, he ceased painting altogether and completed his Inventory series.