Support DOCOMOMO

Become a Member

News May 2016

Furniture and other items from Four Seasons’ interior to be auctioned

May 21, 2016

Over the past few years the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building, considered one of the finest Modern interiors in the world, has been steadily chipped away at by its relatively new landlord, Aby Rosen of RFR Holding. First Picasso’s Le Tricorne tapestry was removed from the hall connecting the Pool and Grill Rooms—a compromise was reached for it to be moved to the New York Historical Society. Next came news that the Four Seasons’ lease would not be renewed—the restaurant has operated in the space since 1959. This was followed by a (thankfully) thwarted attempt last year to alter parts of the restaurant’s landmark protected interior. Most recently the restaurant’s owners announced that 500 pieces of original furniture, including works by Mies van der Rohe, Hans Wegner, and Philip Johnson, custom pieces from Knoll, and tableware and cookware designed by Garth and Ada Louise Huxtable will be up for auction. While fixed features of the interior must remain, including the bar, sculptures, and iconic metal chain curtains, landmark protection does not apply to movable objects.

According to a recent article in The Architect’s Newspaper, Rosen and Four Seasons owners Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder failed to reach a deal on the acquisition of the furniture, despite public outcry and a personal plea from Phyllis Lambert, who argued that these items are integral to the restaurant’s “gesamtkunstwerk,” or total work of art. In what may be a small consolation, Rosen says he has ordered replicas of the furniture from Knoll.

Wright Auctions will manage the sale, scheduled for July 26. A special catalogue will be produced that chronicles the history of the interior in essays and photographs and a public preview will take place at the restaurant July 20– 26.

Four Seasons Restaurant Design Auction: Date and Details Released” by Patrick Sisson, curbed.com (April 27, 2016) 

Aby Rosen to replace Four Seasons furniture with remakes from Knoll” by Matt Shaw, archpaper.com (May 2016)

All photos courtesy Wright Auctions