The iconic Breuer Building, located on Madison Avenue in New York’s Upper East Side, has been sold by the Whitney Museum to Sotheby’s. Sotheby’s, currently headquartered on York Avenue, will move to the Breuer Building starting in 2025.
Designed by renowned Brutalist architect Marcel Breuer and completed in 1966, the landmark building was originally intended to be the third home for the Whitney Museum. However, the museum eventually outgrew the space and relocated to a new building in the Meatpacking District, designed by architect Renzo Piano, in 2015.
Following the Whitney’s departure, the Metropolitan Museum of Art briefly occupied the building from 2015 to 2020, naming it the Met Breuer (to differentiate it from its main location on Fifth Avenue, a few blocks north). In 2021, the Frick Collection took up residence in the building to showcase its collection while its iconic mansion undergoes renovations. The Frick Collection currently holds a lease for the space until August 2024.
Sotheby’s will take over the Breuer Building in September 2024 and plans to relocate there in 2025. The auction house intends to sensitively review the internal spaces while preserving key elements such as the striking lobby. The renovated space will feature updated galleries, exhibition areas, and a reimagined auction room, all of which will be accessible to the public free of charge.
Sotheby’s will retain ownership of its current headquarters in New York’s Lenox Hill neighborhood, where it has been located since 1980, at least for the time being.
Sotheby’s CEO Charles Stewart expressed his excitement about acquiring and shaping the future of this iconic architectural landmark. He emphasized the historical significance of the building, having housed renowned collections from the Whitney, Metropolitan, and Frick over the years. Stewart believes that this acquisition will further distinguish Sotheby’s as they continue to transform and innovate for their clients.
Adam Weinberg, the outgoing director of the Whitney Museum, expressed his satisfaction with the building’s future purpose as an artistic and cultural space. Weinberg acknowledged the significance of the Breuer Building in the Whitney’s history and highlighted the preservation of this architectural masterpiece, thanks to its location in a landmark district.
The acquisition of the Breuer Building is part of Sotheby’s ongoing plan to expand its global presence. The auction house has scheduled the opening of new flagship salesrooms in Hong Kong and Paris in 2024. In addition, this year, Sotheby’s will inaugurate Gantry Point, a state-of-the-art facility encompassing 240,000 square feet in Long Island City.