Sam Horine/Gothamist

Harlem's legendary Lenox Lounge will be closing at the start of 2013, according to various reports, which note that the era will officially end on New Year's Eve—that's about 73 years after it first opened its doors as a speakeasy in 1939.

According to Black Enterprise, owner Alvin Reed—who purchased the Lounge in 1988 and suffered a $10,000 rent increase earlier this year—says, “I wanted to make a difference in Harlem, and I think my ownership of the Lenox Lounge helped me achieve that goal. I have to be out by [December 31st]. Anything that I leave behind will become the property of landlord or the new owner.” Except the name, which Reed has trademarked—though he says: “If they want to use 'Lenox Lounge,' they will have to negotiate with me. I brought it back and I want to see it stay there. I want to keep the legacy alive. I am Lenox Lounge, and I will be Lenox Lounge for quite some time. And if they want Lenox Lounge, they want me.”

So is there any hope? Reed has said they could survive if they were to "partner with someone from out of the community." Like maybe Robert DeNiro? Currently Nobu's Richard Notar is set to take over the Lenox Avenue space, and according to VanishingNY, "Notar is also a business partner of DeNiro. A tipster tells us that DeNiro has 'stepped in to save' the Lenox Lounge: 'A very prominent jazz musician friend just played there Sunday night and told me straight from the owner's mouth.'" Which might mean that the name and the neon sign will stay." Stay tuned...