Lauder Gives Whitney Museum $131M

Massive donation requires Whitney to stay in landmark building

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 19, 2008 11:52 AM CDT

(Newser) – New York's Whitney Museum announced yesterday that its chairman, the cosmetics executive Leonard Lauder, would donate $131 million to boost the institution's endowment. The gift is a transformational sum for the museum, which is devoted to American modern art, and one of the largest donations ever made to a museum endowment. But Lauder's gift has a catch, writes the New York Times: he's requiring the museum to halt plans to move out of its famous building on Madison Avenue.

The art world had wondered if the museum, frustrated by failed attempts to expand, would abandon the hulking black behemoth designed by Marcel Breuer in 1966. But Lauder was determined that they stay put: "Like so many architecture lovers, I believe the Whitney and the Breuer building are one." Lauder's gift brings the Whitney's endowment to $195 million—still only a shade of the $850 million endowment of MoMA, once chaired by his brother Ronald.

The Whitney Museum of American Art, designed by Marcel Breuer in 1966.   ((c) ekainj)
An installation by Phoebe Washburn is shown at the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum in New York on March 4, 2008.   (AP Photo/Sara Rose)
A contemporary exterior shot of the Whitney Museum of American Art is seen in this undated file photo.   (Wikimedia Commons)
Leonard Lauder at a gala fundraiser for the Whitney. Lauder has donated $131 million to the museum.   (Getty Images)
The Whitney Museum of American Art, designed by Marcel Breuer in 1966.   ((c) ekainj)
An unidentified woman is shown viewing art at the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum in New York on March 4, 2008.   (AP Photo/Sara Rose)
Whitney Museum of Art. Keith HARING exhibition. (PAR123123)   (Magnum Photos)
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