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News February 2014

Picasso Alley at Four Seasons threatened

February 17, 2014

Earlier this month the public learned of an attempt by the owner of the Seagram Building to remove the large painted curtain, Le Tricorne (Pablo Picasso, 1919), from the hallway connecting the Pool and Grill Rooms within the landmark-designated Four Seasons restaurant (Philip Johnson, 1959). The owner, RFR Holding headed by Modern art connoisseur Aby Rosen, claims that the wall behind the curtain is in dire need of repairs that necessitate its removal. Experts brought in by the curtain’s owner, the New York Landmarks Conservancy, attest that removing this very fragile curtain will likely cause it irreparable harm. Furthermore, it’s unclear whether the wall truly needs repair (the particular section of wall, designed with the curtain in mind, has no travertine panels) or if this is a tactic by Rosen to replace a Picasso artwork, which Rosen has referred to as a “rag,” with one he favors. Landmarks Preservation Commission regulations do not apply to movable objects, such as art and furniture. There has been considerable outcry about this potential loss. In Vanity Fair, Paul Goldberger writes, “If the curtain is removed, it would be an act of destruction to Philip Johnson’s conception of the Four Seasons.” On February 7, the curtain won a brief reprieve—a judge ruled that it must be left in its place until its court hearing on March 11.

At Four Seasons, Picasso tapestry hangs on the edge of eviction,” The New York Times (February 4, 2014)
Paul Goldberger, “Why Picasso’s ‘Le Tricorne’ must remain hung at the Four Seasons,” Vanity Fair (February 7, 2014)
Belmont Freedman, “Needless Destruction,” Architectural Record (February 6, 2014)

Photo by Annie Fitzsimmons