January 15, 2010 / 8:58 PM / 9 years ago

N.Y's bankrupt Tavern auctions Baccarat, memories

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - New York’s famous Tavern on the Green restaurant was stripped of its history and glitter in a marathon three-day auction that ended on Friday.

A 19th century Baccarat chandelier with beaded and drop pendants, which Guernsey’s auction house estimated would fetch between $50,000 and $200,000, was sold for $40,000.

An anonymous bidder paid $5,500 dollars for the restaurant’s sign.

Thousands of items were up for grabs from the iconic Central Park restaurant, where more than 500,000 guests annually wined and dined. It also served as the finish line for the New York City marathon.

Theresa Veltri, 58, who works in real estate and was raised within sight of the restaurant, spent $550 for a nibbling squirrel topiary and $175 for two dozen, child-size banana split dishes.

“We got married here in 1998. It’s very special to us,” Veltri said.

The restaurant, despite being one of the top grossing U.S. eateries in 2008, was forced to file for bankruptcy in September when its owners, the LeRoy family, lost their bid to renew their lease.

The family, which took over the 1934 restaurant in 1976, filed for bankruptcy in September saying in court documents they are seeking $500,000 from the auction.

“This auction really has struck a chord,” said Arlan Ettinger, president of Guernsey’s. “The place is world famous for its magical nature.”

“We hope this auction celebrates the past, the history of tavern, as opposed to some dismal liquidation.”

Exact figures for the sale would not be disclosed because of ongoing bankruptcy proceedings, he added.

A restaurateur who won the lease has plans to renovate and reopen in the spring but issues, such as who has rights to the Tavern on the Green name, are pending in court.

Reporting by Basil Katz and Chelsea Emery; Editing by Patricia Reaney

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