NBC and General Electric could wind up owning Universal Pictures and all its assets today, except for one: a famous painting by Pablo Picasso worth millions.
Back in February, the New York Post reported that "Le Tricorne," a 22-foot high masterpiece by Picasso, which has hung in the Four Seasons for 44 years, was going to be auctioned off by Universal's owner, Vivendi.
"Le Tricorne," which means "Three-Cornered Hat," was actually the stage curtain for a 1920 Ballets Russes premiere in London. Picasso painted it after marrying the Russian ballerina Olga Khokhlova in 1918.
But Four Seasons owner Julian Niccolini has confirmed that Vivendi, which came to own the painting when it bought Universal's then-parent company Seagram, has turned the Picasso over to the restaurant.
"The Picasso is staying!" Niccolini reported on Sunday at the 15th anniversary party for Nick and Toni's famous East Hampton eatery. "Vivendi has donated it."
"Le Tricorne" has hung in the corridor between the famous Pool and Grill Rooms in the landmark Four Seasons since it opened in 1959. When the Bronfman family sold Seagram's to Vivendi in 2000, the painting was part of the family's enormous art collection. At auction, the curtain could have fetched upwards of $20 million.
Niccolini was just one of a group of eclectic celebrities who came to the Nick and Toni's Sunday afternoon event, which was held in the restaurant and an adjoining tent set up in a parking lot next door. Billy Joel, Chevy Chase and Alec Baldwin also sampled the restaurant's famous cuisine, including a huge pig roasting graphically on a pit set up outside the tent.
"Something isn't kosher here," quipped one observer.
But the unusually conducive weather and beautiful people didn't add up to much for radio shock personality Howard Stern. He arrived around 6 p.m. with blond girlfriend Beth Ostrosky and another couple, strode into the tent and pronounced the whole thing unworthy.
"Let's go," he told his group as they surveyed the scene.
What was the problem? No one in the crowd of well-heeled Hamptonistas seemed to recognize him, or, if they did, they didn't show their appreciation.
Indeed Stern — shorn of producer Ba Ba Booie, Robin Quivers and Stuttering John — is quite different in person than the guy who used to portray a character named "Fartman."
Viewers of his "E!" TV show, which regularly features Stern ogling and pawing silicone-enhanced strippers, probably wouldn't have recognized him in his white-and-cream linen ensemble and sandals, looking more Ralph Lauren than Scores.
The foursome stayed a couple of more minutes, chatted with a few Stern fans and then departed.
Just about the most influential pop record producer ever, the late Tom Dowd, worked with everyone from Aretha Franklin to Eric Clapton. He knew talent and he knew hit records.
Right before he died last year, Dowd came out of retirement and produced some sessions with a New Jersey recording artist named Joe Condiracci.
Tonight, Condiracci, who already has a cult following, plays the appropriately named Joe's Pub in New York. At least five major record companies are sending ambassadors to see him.
I've heard his demo with Dowd and I can tell you, he's the real thing, "realer" than John Mayer and a lot of others who are out there warbling like Michael Franks.
If you're in New York, don't miss this chance. (And if you're in the Hamptons, Garland Jeffreys is at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor. So much great music for a Tuesday night!)