Sotheby’s said it has agreed to purchase the Breuer building from the Whitney Museum, intending to house its auction galleries there upon completion of the sale in September of 2024.
The UES building at 945 Madison Avenue has been home to numerous iconic museums and collections, particularly The Whitney Museum of American Art until it moved in 2014 (it is now located in the Meatpacking District and the West Village). More recently, it included The Frick Collection and a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In a statement, Sotheby’s Chief Executive Officer Charles F. Stewart said that “We are honored to acquire and write the next chapter of such an iconic and well-known New York architectural landmark. We often refer to the provenance of artwork, and in the case of The Breuer, there is no history richer than the museum which has housed the Whitney, Metropolitan and Frick collections.”
Stewart added that “this is a truly unique opportunity to reimagine an iconic and globally renown architectural landmark in the ideal location, which will further distinguish us as we continue to transform and innovate for our clients. We look forward to welcoming collectors to Sotheby’s on Madison Avenue starting in 2025.”
Adam Weiner, the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum, also commented on Sotheby’s planned acquisition, saying that “The iconic Breuer Building will always be a beloved part of the Whitney’s rich history.We are pleased that it will continue to serve an artistic and cultural purpose through the display of artworks and artifacts. Most importantly this architectural masterpiece—thanks to its status in a landmark district—will be preserved.”
Positioned at the corner of Madison Ave. and 75th. Ave., the Breuer building was completed in 1966 by Hungarian-born artist Marcel Breuer. Its original task was to house the third iteration of The Whitney Museum of American Art. It’s famous, or infamous, for being a landmark of Brutalist architecture on the UES (it was considered Modernist at the time of its construction).
According to Sotheby’s, they will be undergoing a serious period of expansion beginning in 2024. The acquiring of the Breuer building is timed to coincide with the opening of additional flagship galleries in far-flung places ranging from Hong Kong to Paris.
In a statement outlining how the UES will serve as a keystone of the ballooning Sotheby’s empire, Sotheby’s CFO Jean Luc-Berrebi noted that “adding the iconic Breuer building, which is deeply woven into the architectural landmarks and history of New York, to our global network of marquee locations in cities like Hong Kong, London, Paris and Cologne advances our mission of promoting access to exceptional art and extraordinary objects.”