What’s the story behind the Old King Cole mural at King Cole Bar?

Answers from Our Experts (2)

Gary Merjian

In 1906, Colonel John Jacob Astor IV, owner of The St. Regis New York, commissioned a mural from American artist Maxfield Parrish for his 42nd Street hotel, The Knickerbocker. For a “kingly sum” of $5,000, Parrish agreed to the commission and created the Old King Cole mural. The mural made a few stops throughout the city before coming to its home in The St. Regis New York in 1932. In 2007, the 30-by-8-foot mural received a $100,000 cleaning that completely restored the beloved masterpiece to its original splendor. The Old King Cole mural contains a secret that The St. Regis bartenders must be coaxed to reveal, so stop by the bar to see if you can get them to share it with you!

Rachel Bowie

The luminous Maxfield Parrish mural Old King Cole — the centerpiece of the King Cole Bar — was commissioned by Colonel John Jacob Astor in 1906 for his 42nd Street hotel, The Knickerbocker. It cost $5,000, which was a great deal of money at the time. The 30-foot-long mural didn’t last long at The Knickerbocker — the hotel closed not long after it opened. Astor perished on the Titanic and his once-spectacular hotel was turned into an office building in the 1920s. After a few additional stops, the mural found its place in The St. Regis New York inside the King Cole Bar in 1932, becoming the focal point of the cozy and elegant room. In 2007, the mural, which is made up of three panels, was completely restored following a $100,000 cleaning designed to keep the painting intact for decades to come. The story goes that the Old King Cole mural contains a famous secret that must be coaxed out of the St. Regis bartenders. Make sure to ask next time you’re in for a drink.

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