Lincoln Center announced today that it was removing the name Avery Fisher from its legendary music hall and offering naming rights to the highest bidder.
In an even more surprising move, the arts organization has also arranged to pay, in some sort of arbitrage of celebrity, $15 million to the Fisher heirs for the privilege of rewriting the building’s history.
The hall, which is home to the New York Philharmonic, has carried the name of the inventor of the violinist and pioneer in sound reproduction technology since it was renovated in 1973.
Proceeds from the buy-a-piece-of-NY-that-used-to-be-Avery’s auction will go towards a much needed renovation of the hall expected to cost as much as $500 million.
Such re-naming has become common in the city for political reasons, with the Queensboro Bridge becoming the Ed Koch and the Triboro named the Robert F. Kennedy, despite his tenuous connections to New York. But museums and concert halls have not changed monikers like winter scarves.
Lincoln Center’s offer, sure to be controversial, opens the door to a renaming spree for cash-needy cultural institutions. (Lincoln Center had already ceded the plaza fountain to David Koch for a renovation that many critics considered not an improvement.)
Is the Whitney Museum of American Art moniker for sale next — and how would “The Bloomberg” sound?