Tavern on the Green Closing

December 22, 2009 by USA Post 

Tavern on the Green Closing:It wasn’t Sotheby’s or Christie’s that won the right to auction off the contents of Tavern on the Green, the famous Central Park restaurant which is closing on Dec. 31.

New York City-based Guernsey’s, which handled the Elvis Presley auction at Graceland, is holding Tavern on the Green sale on Jan. 13 and 14 at the restaurant. It will be open to the public and a preview of the thousands of objects will be held from Jan. 6 to Jan. 14.

Everything from the Baccarat crystal chandeliers, the Japanese lanterns in the garden to the tablecloths and dinnerware will be sold, though Guernsey’s founder and president, Arlan Ettinger, declined to estimate what the items could fetch.

Tavern on the Green, which filed for bankruptcy protection in September after the city did not renew its license, is disbursing the proceeds of the auction to its creditors.

At least one item, however, will not be for sale. The LeRoy family, which operated the restaurant for the past three decades is keeping an antique turkey platter that is mounted on a wall at the restaurant and was used in the LeRoy household.

The story of how Guernsey’s won the auction may also have to do with family history. Mr. Ettinger knew the late Warner LeRoy, who ran the restaurant for 25 years and left it to his youngest daughter, Jennifer, in 2001.

“I had known Warner over the years and that might have had something to do with it,” said Mr. Ettinger, who started the company 30 years ago. Many larger auction houses were vying for the business.

In 1984, Guernsey’s auctioned the contents of an ocean liner, the S.S. United States, which was docked in New York City. It was also commissioned for the auctions of items belonging to John F. Kennedy and Mickey Mantle.

The Tavern on the Green auction will include the Tiffany stained glass ceilings that were removed from Warner LeRoy’s first restaurant in New York, Maxwell’s Plum. In addition, there are many items stored in its Long Island City, Queens warehouse, including samovars from the Russian Tea Room (which Mr. LeRoy owned in the1990s) and bottles of wine.

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