The woman, swaddled in ankle-length furs and trailing two sullen pre-teens in her considerable wake, bustled up to the reservationist’s lectern in Tavern on the Green’s entry way. “We want to have lunch here,” she said in a thick accent. “There’s no more restaurant?”
There was not, the woman behind the lectern told her. “Forever and forever?” Forever and forever. “Then where can we find a nice restaurant?” She was directed towards Lincoln Center, where, the lectern lady assured her, she would find sushi, Mexican, and Chinese food. After rattling off a perplexed stream of Spanish, the woman and her family departed, and an eerie stillness once again descended upon the restaurant, which two hours earlier had opened its doors for the public to preview its wares before they’re all sold off at auction Jan. 13-15.
Say what you will about its food — the less said, the better — but few restaurants in New York, or really, anywhere on the planet, can claim to have as impressive a collection of tchotchkes as Tavern on the Green. Less an eatery than a hallucinatory Xanadu dreamed up by a task force comprising Hollywood, Liberace, a handful of exiled czarists, and some color-blind interior decorators, Tavern, in its afterlife, is now the site of what is basically the world’s most fabulous garage sale.
Fork in the Road stopped by yesterday afternoon, and was awestruck by both the 980 lots on display and the eerie quiet surrounding them. A smattering of visitors, including antiques dealers, restaurant owners, journalists, a couple of Russian oligarchs, and a heavily made-up woman in a purple fur coat, roamed through the restaurant’s largely empty rooms as assistants from Guernsey’s auction house stood at attention, ready to answer any questions. The atmosphere was similar to that of Times Square on New Year’s Day: sedate, slightly melancholy, and completely at odds with the raucous festivities that had so recently pervaded it. Click through for photos of some of what we saw, and what we still can’t quite believe we saw.
Warner LeRoy designed many of the chandeliers in Tavern on the Green. The bidding on this Baccarat specimen starts at $50,000.
Behold, the chandelier room. According to a Guernsey’s assistant, LeRoy liked to collect them at random during his travels, and sometimes had no idea where he’d put them.
LeRoy’s impressive collection of 70s-era eyewear includes, pictured directly below, custom frames that could, in a pinch, double as eating utensils.
Somewhat poignantly, Tavern’s Golden Apple Award for Best New Restaurant is also on the block, starting at $200.
A phalanx of Tiffany lamps — each starts around $3,000.
This wooden eagle used to stand in Tavern’s entryway. Now, it stands guard over a bunch of retired Japanese lanterns. Bidding starts at $10,000.
Remnants of of the high life, starting at $200.
Who doesn’t need a samovar? Or better yet, 10 of them? These are from the Russian Tea Room, and will each set you back at least a grand.
140 lots of books are available through a silent auction. They’re mainly about art, architecture, and design, and their pages are still marked with Warner LeRoy’s Post-Its.
Out of 140 lots of books, only one contained cookbooks, hinting at LeRoy’s priorities. This lot includes the Balthazar, Cafe Boulud, and Charlie Trotter cookbooks, Richard Olney’s The French Menu Cookbook, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s From Simple to Spectacular.
Tavern’s Wurlitzer jukebox: at least $4,000. The chance to play Johnny Mathis, Aerosmith, Neil Sedaka, and the Eurythmics back to back, on continuous loop: priceless.
A set of “gently used” frying and saute pans start at $1,000, not exactly a bargain of Bowery kitchen supply proportions.
A $4,000 “gold-colored” pig weathervane. Perfect for monitoring the drafts that blow through your building’s air shaft.
It’s a monkey, and it will probably give you nightmares.
Horse topiary, starting at $4,000. Ideal for walk-ups and excitable children.