NEW YORK — A stage curtain believed to be the biggest Pablo Picasso painting in the United States is moving to a museum after a dispute over whether it could stay in its longtime spot in the storied Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building, the painting’s owner said Thursday.
The 19-by-20-foot curtain, “Le Tricorne,” is being donated to the New-York Historical Society, where it’s expected to go on display after some conservation work, said the painting’s owner, the Landmarks Conservancy. The timetable isn’t clear.
The agreement also resolves a lawsuit that caused a stir among art lovers and preservationists, pitting the Landmarks Conservancy against real-estate magnate and well-known art patron Aby Rosen.
“It’s going to be at a good home, where even more people will see it,” conservancy President Peg Breen said.
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Picasso painted the curtain in 1919 for “Le Tricorne,” or “three-cornered hat,” a ballet created by the avant-garde, Paris-based Ballet Russes troupe. The painting depicts the aftermath of a bullfight.
The painting, appraised at $1.6 million in 2008, isn’t considered one of Picasso’s greatest pieces, but stands as a major example of his theatrical set work, experts say.
It has graced the Four Seasons’ landmarked, modernist interior since its 1959 opening, although the painting itself isn’t landmarked.
The midtown Manhattan restaurant, unaffiliated with the nearby Four Seasons hotel, is a power-lunch hot spot that has hosted high-wattage diners ranging from President Clinton to Madonna.
The restaurant’s landlord, RFR Holding — co-founded by Rosen, state Council on the Arts chairman — recently said the curtain had to be moved for repairs to the wall behind it. The Landmarks Conservancy sued RFR to try to stop the move, disputing the extent of the wall damage and saying the move could destroy the brittle canvas.
The preservation group’s concerns have been assuaged by the current plan, which involves carefully wrapping the painting on a huge roller and having conservators do any needed restoration work, Breen said. Rosen is paying for it all, said Breen, who wouldn’t disclose the estimated cost.
Through a spokeswoman, Rosen and RFR declined to comment on the agreement, first reported by The New York Times.