New York City’s Four Seasons Restaurant will soon be no more—at least as it exists in Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building on Manhattan’s east side. Elements of the iconic, landmarked interiors, masterminded by Philip Johnson in the 1950s, will be dismantled and relocated, and much of its contents (from banquettes to serveware) auctioned off on Tuesday, July 26, to the highest bidders.
When news of this plan broke last year, there was a justifiable outcry—how could developer Aby Rosen, the Seagram Building’s new owner, do such a thing?
But amid the lamentations and nostalgia was curiosity about what exactly would be on offer. After all, in addition to the objects mentioned above, the famous interiors also include covetable chairs by Mies himself, along with seating by Eero Saarinen and flatware by Ada Louise and L. Garth Huxtable. Could one cobble together a dream midcentury interior from the unfortunate reality of the sale? While the famed bar and Lippold sculptures will remain, many other things will be up for grabs.
In addition to the chairs by Saarinen and van der Rohe mentioned above, the sale includes table 36, the one set aside for Philip Johnson and his guests (a perfect gift for the power broker in your life); signage, seasonal ashtrays, and plates (for the graphic design fans among you); and serving carts and dishes, bread baskets, stemware, and more by the Huxtables (for the rest of us).
Brent Lewis, the New York director of Wright Auction, which is handling the sale, explains that "one of the things that makes this auction different from others is that not only is the restaurant in operation, but it is incredibly busy."
"Usually," Lewis adds, "there is time to go through carefully and count things and make lists but this is more of a challenge logistically. For instance, in the kitchen, it is busy early in the morning to late at night. It is hard to go in and count every pot and pan."
Though it may have been difficult to assemble everything, Wright did in fact get it done, cataloguing the restaurant’s wares and coming across a few unexpected troves, including one long-forgotten cache of brandy snifters.
"They thought they didn’t have any of those, and then they found one," Lewis explains. "We thought, Oh fantastic, there is one, and then we went to their storage facility upstate, there are hundreds. Literally hundreds. They didn’t know they were there, and there is a gentlemen here who has been at the restaurant for 25 years and they were put in storage before his time. They are going to keep some to use in the new restaurant, but also sell some of them."
For those interested, Wright will host a public preview of the auction at the Four Seasons from Wednesday, July 20 through Tuesday, July 26, when the live auction will begin at 10 a.m. You can find more information here.