The Whitney Museum has sold its iconic Breuer Building on Madison Avenue in New York’s Upper East Side to Sotheby’s, which will relocate there from its current headquarters on York Avenue beginning in 2025.
Designed by Brutalist architect Marcel Breuer and completed in 1966, the landmark building was conceived as the third home for the Whitney Museum. (The museum ultimately outgrew the building and relocated downtown to a new Renzo Piano–designed one in the Meatpacking District in 2015. )
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The Metropolitan Museum of Art occupied the building for a brief stint, from 2015 to 2020, and called it the Met Breuer (not to be confused with its Fifth Avenue home, just a few blocks north). The Frick Collection took up residence in the building in 2021 to display its collection, while its iconic mansion undergoes renovations; it currently holds a lease there through August 2024.
Sotheby’s will take over the Breuer in September 2024, before ultimately relocating in 2025. The auction house plans to “sensitively review the internal spaces and maintain key elements such as the building’s striking lobby,” as the new space will boast updated galleries, exhibition space, and a reimagined auction room. The galleries will be free and open to the public.
Sotheby’s will retain ownership of its current headquarters in New York’s Lenox Hill neighborhood, where it has been since 1980, for the time being.
“We are honored to acquire and write the next chapter of such an iconic and well-known New York architectural landmark,” Sotheby’s CEO Charles Stewart said in a statement. “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. The acquisition will further distinguish us as we continue to transform and innovate for our clients.”
Adam Weinberg, the Whitney’s outgoing director, added, “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.”
The building’s acquisition is part of Sotheby’s ongoing plan to expand its global footprint. The auction house is slated to open new flagship salesrooms in Hong Kong and Paris in 2024. This year, Sotheby’s will open Gantry Point, a 240,000 square-foot building with state-of-the-art facilities in Long Island City.