Guernsey’s to auction contents of NYC’s fabled Tavern on the Green

Looking west at entrance canopy of Tavern on the Green. Photo taken Nov. 5, 2008 by Jim Henderson.

Looking west at entrance canopy of Tavern on the Green. Photo taken Nov. 5, 2008 by Jim Henderson.

NEW YORK – Manhattan auction house Guernsey’s has announced it will auction the contents of one of New York’s most beloved dining establishments – Tavern on the Green – on Jan. 13, 14 and 15. The sale will be held on site at the Tavern on the Green in Central Park, with providing the Internet live bidding.

Restaurateur Dean J. Poll is expected to take over from the current operators in January. He reportedly plans to close the restaurant for two years he has not received approval to begin renovations by then.


“On the western edge of New York City’s Central Park, where the bustle of West Sixty-seventh Street yields to 843 tranquil acres of open space, perches a majestic building unlike any other. It is a destination, a showplace, a visual treasure. To approach this gathering place in the early evening is to be swept into a twinkling wonderland of towering trees, wrapped from the tips of their branches to the base of their trunks in more than ten miles of tiny white lights. To amble through its glittering mirrored hallways, and to be seated in one of the six elaborate dining rooms for an unforgettable meal, is a down-the-rabbit-hole experience, one that attracts luminaries and wide-eyed tourists alike.”

So reads the opening paragraph of the handsome new book written by Jennifer Oz LeRoy and Kay LeRoy celebrating the legendary New York restaurant… Tavern on the Green. Created in the depth of the Depression from a sheepfold built half a century earlier, Tavern on the Green was already a well established dining spot when, in the early 1970s, Warner LeRoy stepped in. Fresh on the heels of his extraordinarily successful first Manhattan restaurant – Maxwell’s Plum – Warner was already being described as “New York’s mad genius” by noted critic Paul Goldberger of the New York Times.

Growing up the son of Mervyn LeRoy who was best known as the producer and uncredited director of The Wizard of Oz, Warner’s Hollywood upbringing proved the ideal training ground for the person who came to be thought of as New York City’s grandest showman. When he took over Tavern, Warner and his wife Kay, immediately closed the landmark restaurant’s doors for an unheard-of $10 million, multi-year facelift.

Just as a brilliant Monarch butterfly emerges from its drab cocoon, in August of 1976 Tavern on the Green reopened. Its breathtaking rooms dazzled sophisticated New Yorkers and visitors alike. Among the great and famous who passed through the Tavern’s canopied entrance was John Lennon, who annually strolled to the Tavern from his nearby Dakota residence for his birthday parties.

Sparkling antique crystal chandeliers trickled down from vaulted ceilings while massive Art Mouveau mirrors reflected the lush park surroundings just outside the greenhouse-like walls. Stained-glass creations of century-old Tiffany Studios glass produced intense rainbows of color matched only by cascading floral arrangements flowing from every corner. Joyful topiary peeked in from the gardens just beyond. The total effect, from that day to this, remains stunning.

But now the LeRoy era is coming to an end. And the fabulous antiques and the extraordinary creations, from the Baccarat crystal chandeliers to the copper weathervanes to the outdoor Japanese lanterns will be sold. Even the beautiful canvas murals on the walls will be taken down to find homes with new owners.

As if this isn’t by itself an extraordinary offering, treasures from Warner LeRoy’s 1960’s-era extravaganza – Maxwell’s Plum – and NYC’s Russian Tea Room, which Warner LeRoy once owned, will be included in the remarkable Jan. 13-14 auction. All items will be offered without reserve. A week-long preview will precede the sale.

Among the auction categories are:

Magnificent chandeliers

Extraordinary stained-glass creations utilizing antique Tiffany glass including many stunning shades,
beautiful windows, and the complete glass ceilings of Maxwell’s Plum and the Russian Tea Room

Many copper weathervanes

Large etched glass mirrors and Venetian glass

Massive, beautiful murals

Smaller works of art of many descriptions

Fine-quality restaurant silverware, china, glassware and linens

Nearly 1,000 upholstered chairs

Fabulous holiday decorations

Famous outdoor topiaries

Garden furniture

The fully illustrated catalog will appear online at, where one may sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet during the auction.

On The Net:

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Christmas tree at Tavern on the Green. Image courtesy Guernsey's.

Christmas tree at Tavern on the Green. Image courtesy Guernsey’s.

Crystal Room at Tavern on the Green. Image courtesy Guernsey's.

Crystal Room at Tavern on the Green. Image courtesy Guernsey’s.

Entrance to Tavern on the Green at night. Image courtesy Guernsey's.

Entrance to Tavern on the Green at night. Image courtesy Guernsey’s.