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Four Seasons Restaurant Auction Fetches Huge Bids, High Prices

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Marathon auction at the Midtown Modernist mecca far exceeds estimates; sign goes for $96,000

The iconic tableware and furniture that made the Four Seasons such a design and dining icon have sadly found new, and very likely less glamorous, homes. During a marathon 12-hour sale overseen by Wright Auctions yesterday at the restaurant’s original midtown home, every one of the 650 lots were auctioned off to buyers in person, on the phone, and online, with some items not coming up for bid until much later in the evening. The total for the evening, $4,105,873, was over four times the original estimate.

Designed by Philip Johnson for Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram building on Park Avenue, the restaurant, which ran for 57 years, was an icon of Modernism and the International style and one of the most celebrated examples of midcentury interior design, featuring custom furniture and tableware from Johnson, Eero Saarinen, and Garth and Ada Louise Huxtable, among others.

Lots varied considerably, even for similar items, perhaps suggesting particular seats or tables may hold sentimental or personal value (due to its reputation as an originator of the power lunch and a literal seat of power for Manhattan elite, seating charts were created in the past to showcase the constellation of famed regulars). Regulars including Martha Stewart, who successfully bid for three lots, were in attendance.

A majority of the items exceeded the original estimates of Wright Auction House, which oversaw the auction yesterday, including many of the restaurant's unique serving dishes, some of which have been added to the permanent collections of major museums. Pieces such as the caviar bowl and zabaglione server, used to make a specific type of Italian dessert, speak to a very classic era of service and presentation.

Here are some of the final prices for these pieces of modern design history:

Emil Antonucci Four Seasons logo sign: $96,000 (est. $5,000 - $7,000)

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Ottomans from the entrance lobby: $17,000 (est. $5,000 - $7,000)

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe with Philip Johnson Grill Room bar stools, pair: $18,000 (est. $5,000 - $7,000)

Eero Saarinen Custom Tulip table from the Grill Room: $36,000 (est. $5,000 - $7,000)

Four Seasons Ashtrays, set of four: $10,000 (est. $500 - $700)

Garth and Ada Louise Huxtable champagne flutes, set of 12: $4,000 (est. $300 - $500)

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Brno Chairs, set of 12: $18,000 (est. $6,000 - $8,000)

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Custom Brno Side Chairs, set of 8: $30,000 (est. $10,000-$15,000)

Philip Johnson curved banquette and table 35 from the Grill Room: $50,000 (est. $3,000-$5,000)

Garth and Ada Louise Huxtable serving carts, pair: $7,000 (est. $2,000 - $3,000)

Garth and Ada Louise Huxtable Four Seasons silverware, service for 12: $18,000 (est. $3,000 - $5,000)

Collection of Four Seasons plates, set of 24: $7,500 (est. $500-$700)

Hans J. Wegner mezzanine chairs, set of 8: $22,000 (est. $8,000 - $10,000)

Philip Johnson Associates corner banquette from the Pool Room: $22,000 ($2,000 - $3,000)

Cotton Candy machine: $6,000 (est. $500-$700)