‘New York’s Picasso’ removed from iconic eatery after legal dispute

September 13, 2014 at 12:32 PM EDT
After more than 12 hours of careful maneuvering, workers at New York's Four Seasons restaurant removed "Le Tricorne," a nearly-century old Picasso tapestry painting. The move follows a legal dispute between the building's owner and the New York Landmarks Conservancy. Stephen Fee reports.

STEPHEN FEE: The nearly century-old tapestry depicts resting bull fight spectators — and for 55 years adorned the wall of one of New York City’s most iconic Park Avenue lunch spots.

And this September, after more than 12 hours of careful maneuvering, workers removed the final staples and screws holding the 19 by 20 foot curtain to the wall of the Four Seasons Restaurant.

PEG BREEN, THE NEW YORK LANDMARKS CONSERVANCY: I was really concerned that by the time it got to the top, it might tear. And I’ve had many sleepless nights thinking of this curtain.

STEPHEN FEE: Throughout the night, workers rolled the curtain from bottom to top using a 23-foot-long tube — then lowered it to steel rig, affording upside down views of two bullfight fans.

Last fall, the building owners decided to move the canvas curtain, saying they needed to repair the wall behind it. But the curtain belongs to the New York Landmarks Conservancy. It was donated to the group by the building’s former owner. And the Conservancy sued to keep the work in place.

The parties settled this June, with the building agreeing to front moving costs and the New York Historical Society agreeing to display the work permanently.

PEG BREEN, THE NEW YORK LANDMARKS CONSERVANCY: By going to the Historical Society, it will continue to be New York’s Picasso. And thanks to all the fighting, it’s now New York’s best-known Picasso.

STEPHEN FEE: The tapestry emerged unscathed, shrouded in bubble wrap. It now heads to Massachusetts for a bit of cleaning. The New York Historical Society hopes to raise the curtain once more early next summer.