Sotheby’s buys Breuer Building for $100M
Madison Avenue landmark to feature auction house, exhibition space
The former home of the Whitney Museum of American Art is pivoting from collections to auctions.
Auction house Sotheby’s is buying the landmark Breuer Building — designed by Marcel Breuer — from the Whitney, Bloomberg reported. The exact price of 945 Madison Avenue is unclear, but people familiar with the deal told the outlet it traded for around $100 million.
The floor area of the five-story building is about 77,000 square feet. Sotheby’s will take up occupancy of the property at the corner of Madison Avenue and East 75th Street in 2025, after the Frick Collection’s sublease ends in August 2024. The design of the building will be preserved.
The Whitney moved out in 2015, relocating to the Meatpacking District. The Metropolitan Museum of Art occupied the space from 2016 to 2020, before the Met transferred the lease to the Frick while it was renovating its own historic property.
A number of potential buyers — who remain unidentified — emerged for the property, but none of the museums and art collections who explored a purchase panned out.
Sotheby’s plans to use the building for free galleries and a revamped auction room. The cafe in the basement is expected to remain, but the fate of the fourth-floor galleries remains to be seen.
Adam Weinberg, outgoing director of the Whitney, told the outlet all parties involved felt good about the deal because it assured the future of the museum while allowing the building to continue to be used as Breuer intended.
Sotheby’s already has a 500,000-square-foot property almost directly to the east of the Breuer Building on York Avenue. The auction house plans on hanging on to the building.
Last year, it acquired a converted office building in Long Island City from Columbia Property Trust and State Street for $82 million. The 240,000-square-foot site was designated for Sotheby’s to centralize processing and warehouse operations.
— Holden Walter-Warner