The only reason to go to the bar at the Palace Hotel is now gone. The owners of the hotel have removed the sixteen-foot-wide Maxfield Parrish painting — a mural, really — of the Pied Piper, for which the Pied Piper Bar & Grill is named, in order to sell it at auction. As of Friday, the wall behind the bar became bare, and reps for the hotel say "it is no longer practical for the hotel to display, an original work of this value and cultural significance, in a public area." They estimate it could fetch as much as $5 million.
The painting was done for the hotel in 1909, and is to be the centerpiece of a Christie’s auction on May 23 of important American paintings, which goes on view starting May 18. It’s one of two barroom artworks done by Parrish, who also did the famous Old King Cole painting that graces the wall behind the bar of the same name at the St. Regis Hotel in New York.
Though it’s already been shipped to New York, a petition has been launched to save the painting, calling it a cultural icon of the city, and it’s well on the way to 1,000 signatures.
And needless to say, the Yelpers are already going off, and bringing the bar’s star rating down. Clearly it won’t be called the Pied Piper Bar for long.
Update: Wow. Faster than you can say "terrible publicity," Kyo-ya Hotels and Resorts has announced that it will pull the painting from that auction, and return it to the Palace following a museum-quality restoration in New York. They responded quickly to the brisk online protest, and a call from Mayor Ed Lee himself, and are choosing to preserve the iconic artwork in the place where it was commissioned. All that remains to be seen is if it will return to the same exact spot, or if will be put behind some sort of protective glass, or what. [CityInsider/SFGate]
Palace Hotel Removes ‘Cultural Treasure’ [Chron]
San Francisco’s Palace Hotel To Auction Off Legendary Painting [CBS5]
Kyo-ya Hotels and Resorts: Bring "The Pied Piper" Home! Stop the Sale of San Francisco’s Cultural Legacy!! [Change.org]