Leonard A. Lauder, the Estée Lauder Companies executive and chairman of the Whitney Museum of American Art, said on Tuesday that his art foundation would give the museum $131 million, the biggest donation in the Whitney’s 77-year history, Carol Vogel reports in the New York Times.
Mr. Lauder said that the money required the museum not to sell its Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue at 75th Street for an extended period, although he declined to specify how long.
The Whitney announced last year that it planned to open a satellite museum downtown in the meatpacking district of Manhattan, which stirred speculation that it might sell its Breuer building.
But Mr. Lauder said he was determined that the Whitney keep its hulking 1966 building. “Like so many architecture lovers, I believe the Whitney and the Breuer building are one,” he said.
Given the precarious state of the economy, Mr. Lauder, who turns 75 on Wednesday, emphasized that he could be depended on for the donation, which he said he had long planned.
“Being old enough to have lived through several recessions, when I made the decision years ago, I asked my financial advisers to move the money into T-bills,” he said. “So it is sitting there and is very secure.”