In February of 2017, the Waldorf Astoria closed its mighty doors and hunkered down for a much-needed renovation that would transform the storied but outdated, 1,421-room hotel into a sybaritic, 375-room hotel paired with 375 high-end condominiums. The $1 billion makeover was expected to take two or three years to complete.
Six years later, the Waldorf is still shuttered and isn’t expected to reopen until the end of 2024, or so they say. But that hasn’t prevented iconic Waldorf treasures from popping up off campus. In 2020, the Lobby Clock, a triumph of Victorian technology, craftsmanship and overkill, went on view at the New-York Historical Society, fresh from a top-to-toe restoration.
And this summer, “Spirit of Achievement,” the soaring winged sculpture that once stood guard above the Waldorf’s Park Avenue entrance, turned up on a brand-new pedestal in Hvolsvöllur, a tiny town of 950 people in Iceland.
How in the world did a Waldorf showpiece wind up in a remote Nordic village?