NY1 Exclusive: Tiffany Stained Glass Window Uncovered At Flatbush Public School
A valuable stained glass window from the renowned artist Louis Comfort Tiffany was found hidden in a closet at a public school in Flatbush. NY1’s Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
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Louis Comfort Tiffany is one of America's most famous artists. His stained glass is in museums all over the world and is prized by collectors. Just last year, one window went for almost $1 million.
That's why it's so surprising that his work can be found in a public school in Flatbush. It’s even more surprising that it's hidden in a closet.
"We're always really excited when we can make a discovery like this,” said Arlie Sulka, a Tiffany expert at the Lillian Nassau Gallery.
In fact, NY1 made the discovery after seeing a picture in a book and shooting the window for its series on the school system's art collection.
Officials finally confessed to NY1 that the window was in a closet.
“Tiffany is the gold standard for any stained glass maker who followed him,” said Sulka.
The window was installed in 1919 in the library at Erasmus High School, which used to be one of the city's best, with famous alumni like Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand.
But in 1994, it was closed for poor performance. Officials replaced it with three smaller schools that also failed. Those were replaced by five schools.
Nobody knows exactly when the library was divided into two classrooms, but a closet was built in front of the stained glass, now only partially visible through two graffiti-covered Plexiglas windows.
While most Tiffany windows can be found in churches, several universities also commissioned them. To find one in a public school is very unusual.
The director of the school system's art collection said it's at the top of the list for restoration, but the budget is maxed out with ongoing projects.
The window has never been appraised, and the city doesn't plan on moving or selling it.
Sulka said that's good.
“Where it is is part of its value,” said Sulka. “If it were to be moved somewhere else, it would lose that value.”
Still it’s important to keep an eye on it.
“There was a period in the early 1990s when there were known Tiffany windows in mausoleums around New York cemeteries, and they were stolen because people didn't even know they were there,” said Sulka.
So while the window may be extremely valuable, its true significance may be realized by getting it out of the closet.