Café des Artistes

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Café des Artistes' front entrance.

Café des Artistes was a fine restaurant at One West 67th Street in Manhattan and was owned by George Lang. He closed the restaurant for vacation at the beginning of August 2009 and decided to keep it closed permanently while away, announcing the closure on August 28, 2009.[1] His wife, Jenifer Lang, had been the managing director of the restaurant since 1990.[2]


The restaurant first opened in 1917.[3] Late in 1985 there was a fire in the kitchen but they were able to reopen.[4]

It was designed for the residents of the Hotel des Artistes since the apartments lacked kitchens. Artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Norman Rockwell, Isadora Duncan or Rudolph Valentino were patrons.[5] It was a popular spot for many celebrities because of its privately secluded yet hip atmosphere.[citation needed]

In early September 2009, shortly after announcing it was closing, Lang filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection claiming debts of nearly $500,000, some of which is owed to a union benefit trust.[6] He is also facing a lawsuit from the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union Welfare Fund.[6]

In 2011, a new restaurant, The Leopard at des Artistes, opened in the location. Like its forerunner, it caters to the upper echelon of New York society.[7]

The Murals[edit]

The restaurant's famous murals, retained in the new restaurant's 2011 renovation,[7] were painted by Howard Chandler Christy, famous American artist who also painted Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States that hangs in the US Capitol. Christy was a tenant of the building, Hotel des Artistes, until his death in 1952.[8][5] There are six panels of wood nymphs - the first of which were completed in 1934. Other Christy works on display include paintings such as The Parrot Girl, The Swing Girl, Ponce De Leon, Fall, Spring, and the Fountain of Youth.[3]

Now, although the lovely nymphs still flit and dance, when one looks around the restaurant, one sees strategically placed mirrors where there used to be unbroken mural. The explanation has to do with real property landlord-tenant law.[citation needed]

In the 1960s, a dispute arose between the outgoing tenant and the landlord over who had rights in and to the murals. Under the common law, assuming the parties had not agreed otherwise, fixtures, i.e., accessions that had inured to the realty so that their removal would cause material harm to the freehold, would become property of the landlord upon the termination of the lease.[citation needed]

The parties settled the dispute, each presumably unwilling to run the risk of receiving nothing because of an adverse judgment; however, in all likelihood, the murals were not fixtures, and were the property of the tenant. In any case, per the settlement terms, the tenant was allowed to take and keep several of the murals, but the majority of the murals remained in the restaurant, and the landlord replaced with mirrors those sections that the tenant took.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Café des Artistes closing"
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Café des Artistes history
  4. ^ December 18, 1985 NEW YORK DAY BY DAY Cafe des Artistes Making a Comeback
  5. ^ a b New York Deco, page 127, Richard Berenholtz, Carol Willis, Maren Elizabeth Gregerson (captions), Welcome Books, 2009, ISBN 978-1-59962-078-7.
  6. ^ a b Wells, Pete (September 9, 2009). "Aftermath". 
  7. ^ a b Sifton, Sam (2 August 2011). "The Leopard at des Artistes". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  8. ^ Howard Chandler Christy papers, 1873-2001. Lafayette College Special Collections & College Archives,

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°46′24″N 73°58′43.9″W / 40.77333°N 73.978861°W / 40.77333; -73.978861