Lovers of the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram building in New York, a masterpiece of high modernist interior design, thought it was bad when, in September 2014, Aby Rosen, the building’s owner, forced the removal of "Le Tricorne", the monumental stage backdrop by Pablo Picasso that had hung in the restaurant for more than 50 years. Rosen trumped up the claim that the wall behind it needed repair but it seems he simply did not want to look at the old painting—which he once charmingly called a schmatte—from the Seagram lobby, which he has festooned with sculpture from his own collection of flashy contemporary art.
But now the threat to the space is far more grave. With their lease ending in July—and the rent rising astronomically—the owners of the Four Seasons felt forced to move to a new location. But now they have announced that on July 26 the auction house Wright will hold an on-site sale of all of the furnishings in the restaurant. This will be no ordinary yard sale, as it will include furniture by Mies Van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen, Hans Wegner and Florence Knoll, and service carts and tableware designed by Garth and Ada Louise Huxtable—all custom-made and in situ since the day the restaurant opened in July of 1959. The Four Seasons is a New York City Interior Landmark, but landmark designation does not protect anything that's not fixed in place. Removal of the Picasso was a loss, but it is safely parked at the New York Historical Society and could easily be returned to the space. Once the furniture is dispersed it will be gone forever.