The local tabloids were all aflutter last week with word that the Cipriani “restaurant empire” would be auctioning off everything from their flatware to brand name to make good on $7 million worth of debt. Now that the New York Supreme Court has issued a stay of execution for the multigenerational, restaurateur familys four Manhattan locations. -- Harry Cipriani, Cipriani Downtown, Cipriani 42nd Street and Cipriani Dolci -- the creditors are being held at arms length, but collectors and competitors alike are still licking their chops at the prospect taking home even a small part of the Italian-based enterprise’s New York holdings. -
Still, Cipriani is neither the first nor the oldest titan of the restaurant business’s old guard to face down the prospect of having its assets carved up and sold piecemeal to the highest bidder. Here are just five once thought insoluble eateries that ended up at the end of an auctioneer’s gavel:
Tavern on the Green
Location: Central Park, NYC
Owner: Jennifer Oz Leroy
Sold: January 2010
Reason: Filed for Chapter 11 after accruing $8 million plus in debt
Former Clientele: Fiorello La Guardia, John Lennon, Grace Kelly, The Ghostbusters
Items: The works -- 1,000 upholstered chairs; 54 place settings; 45 chandeliers; 24 copper and gold weathervanes; one outdoor seating tent; one Wurlitzer jukebox.
Biggest Sale: A 40-foot long mural in the Park Room went to the city of New York for $150,000.
Location: Notting Hill, London
Owner: Damien “Formaldehyde Shark” Hirst
Sale: October 2004
Reason: Death by trendiness -- and general mismanagement -- after just six years.
Former Clientele: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Kate Moss, most of Blur and lots of British celebrities we don’t recognize
Items: Aspirin-shaped barstools; martini glasses with snake-wrapped stems; and a slew of Hirst’s own work, including his medicine cabinet installations
Biggest Sale: The restaurant’s neon prescription signs went for $119,000, while two of Hirst’s “Butterfly” paintings fetched $655,300 -- apiece.
Location: Hancock Park, Los Angeles
Owner: An Italian business consortium
Sale: June 2004
Reason: Chapter 11 and a deal for a $20 million condo complex
Former Clientele: Charlie Chaplin, Cole Porter, “Bugsy” Siegel, Frank Sinatra
Items: Pink fabric covered booths; silver-plated serving dishes embossed with Perino’s seal; a $150,000, hand cut crystal chandelier; and a Steinway piano played by Sinatra himself.
Biggest Sale: The entirety of Perino’s circular stairway -- designed by famed Hollywood architect Paul Williams -- was removed and given to the designer’s granddaughter.
Location: Beverley Hills, Los Angeles
Owner: Actor Dave Chasen
Reason: Demolished to make way for a grocery store.
Sale: October 1999
Former Clientele: Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Elizabeth Taylor
Items: In addition the doors, mirrors and windows, all of Chasen’s Hollywood memorabilia -- including a telegram from Howard Hughes, autographed photos of Clark Gable and Jerry Lewis, and Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite booth -- was put up for bidding.
Biggest Sale: The restaurant’s V.I.P. booth -- where Ronald Reagan proposed to future First Lady, Nancy -- was kept off the auction block and donated to the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.
Location: Upper East Side, NYC
Owner: Warner Leroy
Sold: January 1989
Reason: A $7 million real estate development deal
Former Clientele: Cary Grant, Warren Beatty, Barbra Streisand, Bill Blass
Items: All tableware and china; Tiffany lampshades; Victorian reproduction lighting fixtures; the bar’s trademark ceramic animals, not to mention some of the staff’s jewel studded evening jackets.
Biggest Sale: The singles mixing spot’s (literal) glass ceiling went up for auction with a $1 million opening bid.
[Main photo via NY Times]
Thursday, May 23
We sat down with Anne Pasternak for a few questions about Creative Time's past and future, as well as the importance of having an awareness about public art in the city.