After it was announced last week that Picasso’s tapestry, “Le Tricorne,” was going to be evicted from its home at the Four Seasons Restaurant, we decided to take a trip to see it. “Le Tricorne,” has resided at the Four Seasons Restaurant since 1959. The tapestry is owned by the New York Landmarks Conservancy and was not included as part of the interior landmark designation received by the restaurant.
According to the building management, the Picasso needs to be taken down in order for structural work to occur on the wall behind it. There is a fear that if “Le Tricorne” is removed, at best it will end up in storage and at worst it will deteriorate beyond repair in the process. The Landmarks Conservancy says that if it’s moved, the tapestry will “crack like a potato chip.” Allegations have also swirled that the order to remove the work stems from a rent dispute between the Four Season Restaurant and the Seagram Building where it is located.
The tapestry was created by Picasso in 1919 for the ballet El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat), which was also referred to as “Le Tricorne.” Picasso was commissioned by Serge Diaghilev to design the sets and costumes, which he did in a studio in Convent Garden, London. Diaghilev ultimately cut out the center of the curtain, in order to raise money to finance new productions, and sold it to a Swiss collector. In 1957, Phyllis Lambert, whose father Samuel Bronfman owned Seagram’s and was in the midst of building a new headquarters, purchased the tapestry for $50,000. She and the building’s architect, Philip Johnson, decided that the Picasso was a perfect fit for the building’s entryway.
A New York State judge has issued a temporary injunction barring the building from moving the Picasso. While the injunction ensures its temporary safety, its future remains uncertain. Therefore, we recommend that if you have some time to spare, you should check out this unique work of art while it is still easily accessible and in one piece.