Wright Auctions Off Items from the Seagram Building's Four Seasons

Wright Auctions Off Items from the Seagram Building's Four Seasons

By Aileen Kwun
Going, going, gone: Today, Manhattan's legendary Four Seasons restaurant auctions off its holdings with Wright, in preparation for its relocation to 280 Park Avenue.

Last June, real estate magnate Aby Rosen of RFR Holding, which currently owns the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe–designed Seagram Building, announced that he would not be renewing the lease to the Four Seasons, a controversial decision that incited outcries from many figures in the design community. The restaurant, designed by Philip Johnson and Mies van der Rohe, had been a Midtown Manhattan institution since its inception in 1959, shortly after the building itself was completed. 

A year later following the maligned news, the Four Seasons held its last dinner service on July 16. Today, Wright hosts an auction of furnishings, tabletop items, and objects from the iconic interior—the final stamp of the end of an era-defining chapter for many. 

Featuring a bubbling water feature punctuated with seasonal trees, the International Style–designed Pool Room was home to many a power lunch over the years.

The original bar, shimmering chain curtains, and the bronze sculpture by Richard Lippold are among the elements that will remain of the original Four Seasons, which was designated as an interior landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1989.

The Grill Room featured cantilevered Brno chairs by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and banquettes by Philip Johnson, who was known to dine at his preferred seat, at table 32.

Custom side tables and stools by Eero Saarinen lined the bar, adjacent to the Grill Room.

While the legendary restaurant was designated as an interior landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1989, that distinction will protect only certain architectural elements including the bar, sculptures, and the chain-metal curtain. All other interior fittings and furnishings—down to the restaurant’s signage, tableware, seats, and even its cotton-candy machine—will be liquidated as part of this sale, bringing into question the extent of how to properly preserve and define an interior as holistically designed as the Four Seasons. Often referred to as a modern gesamtkunstwerk, it had remained virtually unchanged since its opening 57 years ago. 

The auction, now live and streaming on the Wright website as of 10 a.m. EST today, will conclude at approximately 8 p.m. EST. Furnishings designed by Mies van der Rohe, Hans Wegner, and Eero Saarinen; tableware and objects by Garth and Ada Louise Huxtable; and custom designs by Philip Johnson—whose own preferred seat in the house, a three-sided banquette in the Grill Room at table 32—are among the lots up for sale, listed with opening bids as low as $300, and estimated to peak at $15,000 each.

Update, 1:25 pm EST: Now just a few hours in, Wright's estimates have been far exceeded. At the time of this update, top bids include signage by Emilio Antonucci (sold for $96,000); a custom Tulip table by Eero Saarinen (sold for $36,000); and a pair of custom hassocks from the Grill Room (sold for $11,000). Johnson's personally preferred banquette, Table 32, has sold for $28,000 (strangely, $14,000 less than a subsequent lot of an identical design).

Update, Weds. July 27, 4:25 pm EST: A post-auction release from Wright confirms the final auction proceeds at a record-breaking total of $4,105,873—more than four times the original estimate; all 650 lots sold, with the auction concluding after midnight. 

Following the bid? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.  


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