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Four Seasons in New York to close for retro revamp

Aby Rosen plans to restore Manhattan restaurant to its salad days in the 1950s

The Four Seasons restaurant, a favoured spot for art-world power lunches, will close when its lease expires in 2016. “My strategy is to fix it up,” says the art collector and property mogul Aby Rosen, who owns the Mies van der Rohe-designed Seagram Building that houses the restaurant. “I want to bring it back to its original glory.” The restaurant’s interior is mostly unchanged from its 1958 design by the architect Philip Johnson, and was designated a landmark by New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1989. Rosen is working with the architect Annabelle Selldorf on the renovation, and has submitted his proposals to the commission for approval. His goal is to “fix some of the functionality issues; the place was created 60 years ago and not everything works, so I’m going to freshen up, make it a really cool space and bring back some of the old-style service”. He doesn’t want to create “a trendy restaurant. I’m mainly interested in restoring the materials—the brasses, the woods, the leathers. I want to create some glamour again, without it being stuffy”.The location is also well known for its art collection—and accompanying controversies. These include last year’s removal of Le Tricorne, the 20ft-long stage curtain painted by Picasso in 1919, or the last-minute decision by the artist Mark Rothko to keep the canvases he had been commissioned to paint in 1958. The remodelled restaurant will mainly display historical art, Rosen says: “We want to hang work that was done in the 1950s and 1960s, so it’s not all about having the young, hot, crazy artists.” He adds: “Eventually we’re going to commission artists to do work for us. But I just want to see really beautiful art that creates an environment that respects the integrity of the space.”Rosen wants the menu to “embrace a fresher, more farm-raised type of food” served with “fun and elegance”. As for the name change, he says: “The space itself is what makes the difference. In the end, it doesn’t make a difference if it’s called the Three Seasons, the Four Seasons, the Five Seasons or something else.”