Art Damage: River Cafe Sues Over Waterfalls

The New York Post reports that the River Cafe is suing the New York Public Art Fund and Danish artist Olafur Eliasson for $3 million in damages they claim were the direct result of last year’s NYC Waterfalls art installation along the East River.

New York Post: There were 90 to 120 days of saltwater rain coming down on us,” restaurateur Buzzy O’Keeffe said.

“It ate up aluminum and steel. It short-circuited our electrics. We had fires on our roof.”

“The paint was ruined, the awnings were ruined, our outdoor lights are broken, and a lot of our trees just couldn’t take it. It’s left the place destroyed,” O’Keeffe said.

The restaurant’s gardens — much of which had been growing for more than 30 years — started to turn brown days after the waterfall was turned on, he said.

Amid complaints, a Parks Department official confirmed that the water was damaging trees — but the soaking didn’t stop.

“They did nothing,” O’Keeffe said. “They knew it was happening, but the waterfall kept on going.

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  • T.K. Small

    Thankfully the trees along the promenade are not dead, but if you look closely there definitely was some damage. Many of the trees have dead limbs. I wish someone would sue on their behalf as well.

  • JM

    It’s about time somebody called Bloomberg on that fiasco.
    That was the perfect example of Bloomberg’s administration…push through an idea that actually hurts our quality of life and the average (not super rich) NYer and call it somethin it ain’t. With his near total domination of the local news outlets we are in for alot more damage than that if his coup for another 4 years goes through.
    Get ready for bridge tolls in the guise of environmental policy, eminent domain ravaged local neighborhoods in the guise of “jobs and progress” , etc.

  • Harry

    Buzzy’s $1 a year, 25 year lease (it is more than that but still extremely low) isn’t compensation enough?

    The man has the gall to charge $125 for a dinner while paying nothing for his land at the taxpayers expense.

  • Harry Hoody

    Even though Buzzy only pays $1 a year for his lease, he is still due compensation for the damage caused by this awesome public artwork.

  • Harry

    It reeks of greed, IMO.

  • heavy flo

    Buzzy pays below market for the River Cafe, but pays a significant amount for his other properties also on city lots; he maintains the small park, and funds the lighting for part of the Brooklyn Bridge. He has also supported numerous Park and Community initiatives. And where else can you eat where you can walk through the door past all those Gladiolas and feel like you’re attending a mob funeral.

    This waterfall project should have been left in the conceptual art phase, or perhaps a la Christo – conceptual to installation to break down in one month. It was a mistake to leave it up that long.

  • Reality Check

    He’s only looking to make quick money from a non-profit arts group. He gets free rent from the city for his land, and charges a fortune for his mediocre dinners. Notice that he didn’t sue the city — because they’d pull his sweet free rent deal. He is so greedy. I will never eat at any of his restaurants.

  • Harry

    Nice to see at least one person agrees with me.