Strong Start for Four Seasons Auction


The restaurant’s signage, designed by Emil Antonucci, was formerly mounted on the facade of a south-facing entrance to the Seagram Building. It was sold in a 10-minute spree of telephone bidding.

Casey Kelbaugh for The New York Times

With water jets gurgling in the background at the Pool Room, auctioneers on Tuesday began the breakfast-hour dispersal of the contents of the Four Seasons, a restaurant storied as the birthplace of the power lunch.

First opened in July 1959, the Four Seasons was shut 57 summers later after a protracted and ultimately failed effort by its owners to preserve its lease. Expectations ran high for an auction of furniture and objects created in the middle of the last century by some of the pre-eminent names in architecture and design: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, Eero Saarinen, Garth and Ada Louise Huxtable.

A marathon with hundreds of lots, many representing groupings of logo table settings and kitchen- and barware, the auction was stacked in its early hours with the choicest trophies — objects whose inherent worth exceeded the sentimental value that Wright, the Chicago auctioneer, anticipated would drive people to bid on saltcellars, logo ashtrays and a zabaglione server that, as the catalog noted, was the last remaining one of its kind.

Although it would be hours before the market for unique zabaglione servers was put to the test, early bidding was bracing for a bronze placard bearing the restaurant’s logo of a tree in each of the seasons.

The sign, designed by Emil Antonucci, was formerly mounted on the facade of a south-facing entrance to the Seagram Building (the Midtown skyscraper considered a masterpiece of corporate modernism). It was hammered down in a 10-minute spree of telephone bidding. At $96,000 (in addition to New York State sales tax and a 20 percent buyer’s premium), the prize fetched just over 14 times the auction house’s high estimate, good news for the Canadian Center for Architecture, the beneficiary of that lot.

Correction: July 26, 2016

An earlier version of this article misstated the number of years the Four Seasons was in business. It was open for 57 summers, not 58.

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