Chairman of the cosmetics company Estee Lauder; Leonard A. Lauder is giving $131 million US to the Whitney Museum of American Art.
The gift is the largest donation in the institution’s history, with about $125 million going towards the New York museum’s endowment, according to a Wednesday report in the New York Times.
The 75-year-old billionaire hopes the donation would spur others to give generously to the Whitney.
Stating that his intention was to help the Whitney retain its Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue at 75th Street.
“I believe the Whitney and the Breuer building are one,” Lauder told the Times.
The Whitney announced last year it was planning to open a second location in the meatpacking district of Manhattan, causing some to believe that it would sell its current locale because it wouldn’t be able to run two buildings.
The 77-year-old museum is one of the least endowed in the city. Its current endowment total of $195 million pales in comparison to the $850 million of the Museum of Modern Arts.
According to the Whitney’s director, Adam Weinberg, the gift will allow the museum to venture into “adventurous programming.”
Lauder has been active at the Whitney. Six years ago, he a launched a campaign to purchase $200 million worth of American art by the likes of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstien, Jasper Johns and Jackson Pollock.
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