The Conservancy counters by claiming that Rosen wants to remove the curtain because he does not like it, noting in papers filed with the court that he “has previously referred to the Picasso curtain as a ‘schmatte,’ the Yiddish word for rag.”
While the Seagram Building and the restaurant interior were named city landmarks in 1989, Le Tricorne is explicitly excluded from the designation.
Vanity Fair’s impassioned plea to leave the curtain in situ makes a convincing case that the piece should stay:
The restaurant was conceived as a kind of gesamtkunstwerk, a complete work of art, with everything in it—architecture, art, furniture, even plates and glasses—conceived as part of a larger whole. Some parts of it, like Richard Lippold’s sculpture of brass rods hanging over the bar and Garth and Ada Louise Huxtable’s tableware, were commissioned for the space; others elements were found. Surely the greatest found item was “Le Tricorne,” the huge 19- by 20-foot curtain, painted by Picasso in 1919 for Serge Diaghilev, the impresario of the Ballets Russes. It has hung since 1959 on the travertine wall that connects the restaurant’s two dining rooms, which is separated from the building’s lobby by a wall of glass, so seeing the curtain isn’t just for restaurant-goers; it is part of the experience of anyone entering the building. It is so identified with the space that the corridor has always been known as “Picasso Alley.”
The painting’s fate now lies in the hands of State Supreme Court Judge Carol Edmead.