Lord Palumbo is poised to sell the Mies van der Rohe-designed Farnsworth House in Illinois, raising fears that its new owner might close the building to visitors for good.
Lord Palumbo, who restored the US building after severe flood damage in 1996, told the AJ this week that he will decide whether to sell within the next month but that it will be the new owner's decision whether or not to keep the 51-year-old glass-walled icon open for sightseers.'It's just that it's a responsibility and if I'm not going to use it it seems a bit of a waste, ' said Lord Palumbo, a wellknown collector of famous houses. 'It's in very good condition and is looking wonderful.'
Lord Palumbo, who last visited the worldfamous building for three hours two weeks ago, now spends much of his time in Pennsylvania.
Farnsworth House was designed by Mies for his friend, the physician Dr Edith Farnsworth, but she caused controversy at the time by complaining that many of its features rendered it unlivable. 'I wanted to do something meaningful and all I got was this glib, false sophistication, ' she said.
The building is a single space of glass and steel divided by partitions and featuring travertine floors. It has been in Palumbo's hands for the past 30 years and open as a museum for just the past four following reparation works after the nearby Fox River flooded. Lord Palumbo also owns the Frank Lloyd Wright house Kentuck Knob and Le Corbusier's Maisons Jaoul in Paris, currently on the market.
Farnsworth admirer John Winter said it was a 'pity' that the building was being sold. 'I just hope it is looked after by the new owner as well as it has been by Lord Palumbo, ' he said.
For sale signs set to go up at Mies van der Rohe icon house