The Met’s Chagall curtain is now up for sale

The Met’s Chagall curtain is now up for sale


norman lebrecht

November 16, 2020

A stage curtain painted by Marc Chagall in 1967 for a Met production of Mozart’s Magic Flute goes on sale tomorrow as Bonhams New York with an estimate of $250,000-450,000.

Another sign of opera houses selling off whatever it is they once stood for.

The price seems a bit steep. You can get a Chagall shower curtain these days for 60 bucks. And it’s waterproof.

photo: Bonhams


  • Gustavo says:

    The curtain falls under the hammer.

  • Do I hear.....? says:

    He will sell the chandeliers next.

  • yujafan says:

    On the contrary, this is a come-get-me cheap estimate for a Chagall. Several collectors are probably circling…

    • VQP245 says:

      Don’t really see the humor in this. Why the snide comments? The entire organization is out of business and people are losing their incomes and homes. Selling that shows how desperate the MET is.

      • Edgar says:


        Now would be the time to get good architects and contractors in to gut the way too large auditorium (actually, everything except the outer shell of the building and its necessary static elements), and create a smaller opera venue and adjacent spaces (similar to what Seattle opera has done in their new building next to McCaw Hall), with an auditorium which has superb acoustics and unrestricted view of the stage from every seat (Wagner’s “democratic theatre”). In short: now to create new things – again, as Wagner would say: “Kinder, macht neues!”

        With the Chagall curtain up for sale, I wonder what will be the fate of the two huge works in the lobby/Grand Tier…?

        • Stephen says:

          The backstage area is cramped and piled to the ceiling with clothes, etc., etc. This sounds like a good idea to utilize the space without actually expanding the building’s exterior.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    When was the curtain last used?

  • The View from America says:

    This is perfect timing — our shower curtain needs replacing.

  • mary says:

    I want an auction for a date with James Levine.

  • Next up- The Met will be named for some billionaire, like Geffen Hall. These are tough times.

    • Tiredoditall says:

      They’ve held out that carrot for the past few years. No takers. I’ve got a partial list of refusals. The usual suspects.

    • Araragi says:

      I have no issue with this if it helps the Met. And even if the house is renamed, people will still call it by its former name. Like the Triborough Bridge.

  • Alviano says:

    It’s a little big for a shower, but some young entrepreneur could buy it, cut it up, and then sell it as shower curtains. Probably make a killing!

  • MacroV says:

    This isn’t one of the Chagall murals in the lobby; it’s part of a set from a long-discarded production. Probably been sitting in storage for years. This isn’t a case of selling off your seed corn.

  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    Christo could have used this in Central Park.

  • Gustavo says:

    No need for shower curtains when using a walk-in solution equipped with a 4’33” by John Cage.

  • GCMP says:

    It could be argued that it’s better off in a museum or location that can display and conserve it than to sit in a MET shipping container along with other unused old production items.

  • sam says:

    I can’t wait for the auction of “The Machine”, Robert Lapage’s monster of a contraception for his Ring cycle.

    It’d be great fun to install in my bedroom.

  • MA227 says:

    I thought that “what they stood for” was to put on opera productions. If they happen to have assets to sell that will help them perform their core mission when NYC arts opens again (which it has not, and for good reason), then I don’t see what the problem is.

    • E. Stowe-Meier says:

      The problem is that no one is supporting the bloody singers!!!

      We’re sick of hearing about Peter the Great and player’s whinings while singers suffer with no help whatsoever.

  • David Leibowitz says:

    Technically, it’s not the Met’s curtain since it doesn’t belong to them anymore…

    From the NYTimes: “The Met sold the curtain…in 2007, two years before it put up the murals in the lobby as collateral for a loan in the wake of the financial crisis.”

    So all the Met bashing (deserved or not) is a bit misplaced here.

  • Joel Kemelhor says:

    Some months after the last performance at the Old Met was given in 1966, RCA Victor issued a “limited edition” set of three LPs called “Opening Nights at the Met.” The album booklet included a swatch cut from the famous gold curtain of the soon-to-be-demolished auditorium.
    Each silk rectangle measured a bit more than 2 x 3 inches, and was in a numbered little plastic folder. Mine was # 2556, which does suggest that thousands were sold in this “limited edition.” The list price of the record set was $ 14.39 — a fortune for a 1960’s teenager with a small allowance.

  • John humphreys says:

    Perhaps the curtain could be named after a previous music director: ‘Shagall’?

  • Sharon says:

    I believe very strongly that the Met spends much too much money on production set and bling. This expensive relic should be sold since it does not layoff any people by not having it around for future productions

  • Tamino says:

    I always wondered why the Met never does yearly sales of their retired opera productions like other US opera houses: costumes, props, shoes, wigs/facial hair, accessories ……?

  • Bob Warsham says:

    The Met sold this in 2007.