The Four Seasons: The last hours

The Four Seasons: The last hours

Text and Photos by Fabienne Ayina



The Four Seasons, New York’s power lunch institution, closed its doors last July marking the end of an era. Everything besides the walls, ceilings, and floors of the iconic space was auctioned off on July 26, 2016 by Wright Auction House.  Among the vestiges of a bygone era was found a serious collection of beloved designer pieces; Phillip Johnson, Mies Van Der Rohe, Eero Saarinen, and Knoll to name a few. Found in the weeks before closing was palpable sadness in an atmosphère feutrée. 



I found myself relishing the last hours of the iconic space one morning in late July. Giant windows, high ceilings, carpeted floors, wood paneled walls, staircases to mezzanines, tiled vestibules, chandeliers like stalactites, palm trees, and a swimming pool. Yes, your environment can definitely change the way you feel. And since I stopped into the half-sanctuary, half-canteen for the rich and powerful, I do feel rich and powerful –but maybe less glamorous as a stroll at Les Salons du Ritz in Paris. If the walls could talk I wonder what they would say. This morning, on what seems to be a the stage of a dying theatre, I channel my inner very-important-person and have a quick chat with two security men, and a well-groomed and enigmatic bartender.

Fabienne Ayina: Are you going to buy something?

Security Man No.1: No. I’m working here.

Security Man No.2: Let me take a picture of you. I know a good spot with good light. Where do I press?
Fabienne Ayina: On the big button.
Security Man No.2: Now you can say “I was here“.



Fabienne Ayina: Are you the person who’s been working at the bar for 29 years?
The Bartender: I actually worked everywhere here (Four Seasons) for 29 years and at the bar for 6 years.
Fabienne Ayina: Waaoo. That’s amazing!
The Bartender: People went crazy lately. They were stealing martini glasses, plates, everything. We did not have glasses anymore. I had to wash the glasses myself. Being a dishwasher after all these years.
Fabienne Ayina: Well, it’s like a big church closing down.



Security Man No.1: Did you find something you like?
Fabienne Ayina: I love the furniture. But my favorite thing is the atmosphere. This. I can’t buy. A chair, a table, a glass and then what. The experience of being here is priceless.

Security Man No.1: Yes. That you can’t take with you.