Sotheby’s To Acquire the Iconic Breuer Building from the Whitney Museum of American Art

Thursday, June 1, 2023
Sotheby’s To Acquire the Iconic Breuer Building from the Whitney Museum of American Art

Sotheby’s today announces plans to acquire the iconic Breuer building from the Whitney Museum of American Art, relocating its flagship galleries and auction room to the heart of New York’s Upper East Side alongside the Museum Mile. Designed by Modernist master Marcel Breuer and completed in 1966, the new flagship located at 945 Madison Avenue will include state-of-the-art gallery and exhibition space to showcase Sotheby’s full suite of offerings—including a reimagined signature auction room, exhibitions spanning Sotheby’s 71 categories across fine art and luxury, all while maintaining this landmark architectural masterpiece. The Sotheby’s galleries will be free and open to the public.

The acquisition of the Breuer building is an ongoing part of Sotheby’s strategy to grow and enhance its global footprint in order to better serve existing and new collectors across its wide range of collecting categories. In 2024, Sotheby’s will open its new flagship galleries in Hong Kong and Paris Sotheby’s new Asia flagship is a spectacular 24,000 square foot two-story
space located at Landmark Chater in the core of Hong Kong’s luxury district which will offer year-round events and experiences, allowing collectors and visitors alike to enjoy an array of extraordinary objects from across time and geography.

Also in 2024, Sotheby’s will unveil its new historic home and Parisian headquarters located at 83, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré on the site of the Galerie Bernheim Jeune which played a major role in the history of the 20th-century art market, enabling Sotheby’s to expand its French exhibition space. Later this year, Sotheby’s will open Gantry Point in Long Island City, NY, a 240,000 square foot facility which will house state-of-the-art operational facilities to centralize and enhance the handling of tens of thousands of rare and valuable art and objects every year with best-in-class logistics and storage. In the last few years, Sotheby’s has opened several new galleries including in Palm Beach, Aspen, Los Angeles, Cologne, Monaco and Shanghai.

The Breuer Building’s landmark façade, facing Madison Avenue. Photo by Max Touhey. Credit: Courtesy Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s will take possession of the Breuer building in September 2024, at the conclusion of The Frick Collection’s occupancy during the time frame of the renovation of The Frick’s permanent home on East

70th street. Sotheby’s will engage an architect to sensitively review the internal spaces and maintain key elements such as the building’s striking lobby. Located on the corner of Madison Avenue and 75th Street in Manhattan, the epicenter of art on the Upper East Side, the Breuer building is a Modernist and, now considered Brutalist, building designed by Hungarian-born architect Marcel Breuer, completed in 1966 and designed to house the Whitney Museum of American Art. Since its opening, the Breuer has been home to some of America’s most prominent cultural institutions including Whitney Museum of American Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Frick Collection. As the third home for The Whitney Museum of American Art, this iconic structure saw the first of many Whitney Biennials in 1973, filling the Museum with works from over 220 artists. Following The Whitney’s 50-year tenure in the space, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, occupied and programmed the building with the opening of The Met Breuer in 2015.

This era saw outstanding shows including its inaugural exhibition,
“Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible,” a show of artworks left in various states of incompletion, and the Kerry James Marshall retrospective (2016–2017).
In 2021, The Frick Collection began programming the building, installing its permanent collection during the period of its renovations. The building is currently known as the Frick Madison. From 2021 – present, the Breuer building has been home to an unprecedented and acclaimed installation of masterpieces from the Frick, shown on three gallery levels in a manner
distinctly different from the museum’s typical display within its mansion on East 70th Street. Sotheby’s will retain ownership of its current global
headquarters at 1334 York Avenue, its home on the Eastside of Manhattan since 1980, where the company will continue to present world-class exhibitions and auctions across all categories there until it opens its new galleries in the Breuer building in 2025.

Photo on top : Exterior of the Breuer Building. Photo by Max Touhey. Credit: Courtesy Sotheby’s

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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