A piece of art by Picasso that has hung at the Four Seasons hotel in New York City since 1959 was removed this past Sunday.
"Le Tricorne," the largest Picasso canvas in the U.S., was hung on a wall in what is known as Picasso Alley, behind the restaurant's two-story kitchen. A "potentially serious" steam leak is suspected to be causing the wall to be rotting from the inside.
The 19-by-20 foot artwork, which is painted on a curtain, needed to be removed for wall repairs that were first noticed by Frank Farella, the general manager of the Seagram Building, last fall. The Picasso piece was thought to be in danger because it was being damaged by a leaking steam pipe and an unstable wall.
Experts found that the painting was too fragile to be moved for the renovations and would crack "like a potato chip" when moved, but an engineer hired by the Landmarks Conservancy had a contradictory opinion. The engineer concluded that there was no evidence of stress and that the leaking steam pipe was at a safe distance from the painting.
Real-estate developer, owner of the Seagram Building and art collector Aby Rosen was rumored to have planned a three a.m. heist to move the Picasso in February in an attempt to not disturb those staying at the Four Seasons. Landmarks Conservancy filed a restraining order to prevent the move.
"It seems absurd that a work like this would be taken down at 3:00 in the morning on a Sunday ... so that it can be removed in time for lunch or brunch business at [the] Four Seasons. And if some damage were to occur to the tapestry, that is clearly irreparable. There's no amount of money that can make up for the loss of a Picasso. Probably of any Picasso at this point, but certainly a Picasso that is part of ... New York's cultural and social fabric," the judge who ordered the temporary injunction said.
The Picasso has reigned over power lunches for more than half a century, being a powerful piece of culture itself. It has caused an increased number of patrons at the popular business lunch spot.
"I've seen a tremendous amount of reservations, a tremendous number of people coming to see the Picasso for the final time," one of the restaurant's managing partners, Julian Niccolini says.
Till its removal, art students continued to sketch the curtain while patrons snapped pictures for the last time. It is not decided what piece of art will take the place of the Picasso. "I would like to get a really beautiful Picasso painting," Rosen says. I'm talking to various museums. I have lots of choices. Everybody wants to hang something great."
The Picasso will be donated to the New York Historical Society, with its moving cost and restoration being paid for by Rosen. It will be displayed on the second-floor gallery.