2007_06_arts_kngcole.jpgWe've heard of paintings getting CT scans, but how about $100K cleanings? Maxfield Parrish's 25-foot King Cole mural, owned by the St. Regis Hotel, just got restored to its original splendor at that exact price. The $12M painting hadn't been cleaned in 40 years, and since there wasn't a smoking ban for most of that time, and the painting hung in the hotel bar - the appearance suffered. This cleaning was one of the last parts of a $35 million refurbishment of the hotel.

Back in January, as the painting went in for its cleaning, the NY Times reported on its condition:

"Now, the painting suffers from cracking and from a scattering of dents, even splashes of alcohol. Worse, it is coated with a decades-old layer of brownish grime and nicotine residue that has not only hid the artist’s technical mastery, but has also obscured a century-old joke embedded within the image."

The masterpiece went back on view in the King Cole Bar & Lounge at the St. Regis starting today. The NY Sun reports that originally the work was commissioned in 1906 by Colonel John Jacob Astor for his Knickerbocker Hotel on 42nd Street. It then hung on many a wall around the city until taking its place on a wall at the St. Regis in the 1930s. Since then many look at the painting as a symbol of New York elegance, and a signature feature of the hotel.