Antiques and Memories at Tavern on the Green Pre-Auction

While many are still in disbelief that Tavern on the Green has shut its historic doors, others were moving forward this week as they attended the pre-auction event to preview 25,000 treasures from the bankrupt landmark restaurant in Central Park in preparation for next week’s auction.

On Wednesday, dozens of potential bidders entered shuttered Tavern on the Green in anticipation, albeit somewhat tainted, of next week’s three-day auction of 1,000 lots of items. The items have been valued at $100 to $1.2 million, and one viewer noted, “I’d like to buy something if I can afford it; possibly something—small.”

Items include a “large assemblage of candelabras, samovars, weather vanes, sculptures, murals, prints, lighting fixtures, silver and china place settings, and other eccentric assets of the sprawling restaurant,” which faced and untimely closure early on New Year’s day.

Arlan Ettinger, the president of Guemsey’s auction house is not letting the past affect the future, and realistically commented, “Everything must go.” He hosted the pre-auction previews which are from noon to 8 p.m. every day until Tuesday. The next day begins the three-day sale in the Crystal Room of Tavern, with sessions at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Ettinger said he was “optimistic about auction attendance, since some 20 million patrons visited Tavern during the 33 years it was operated by the LeRoy family.”

Tavern’s chief operating officer, Micahel Desidero added, “It’s all here, and it’s all authentic. I’d like to buy some of these things myself—but I can’t afford them.”

The auction is being called a “nonreserve auction” because there is no presale estimate of prices for individual objects. By the time the preview of the auction is finished on Tuesday, it is expected that more than 1,000 visitors will have passed through with many hundreds of bidders returning for the auction.

The New York Times notes that “although Ettinger declined to put a specific value on the offerings, a Sotheby’s appraisal of a portion of the LeRoy inventory a few years ago estimated the value at $8.17 million, including $1.2 million for the leaded-glass ceiling of Maxwell’s Plum that was eventually moved to the Russian Tea Room (both restaurants were owned by Mr. LeRoy) and $300,000 for the antique green-crystal chandelier that is the centerpiece of the Crystal Room.”