000A. THE PRIVATE MUSEUMS - Neue Galerie 6.15.14 JPGPhotographer: Derry Moore




Little did President Ronald Reagan realize what a great gift he was bestowing on the art world and its admirers when he appointed Ronald S. Lauder his Ambassador to Austria in 1986.  It was during his tenure in Vienna as US Ambassador that Lauder, one of the sons of Joseph and Estee Lauder, co-founders of Estee Lauder Companies, the cosmetics empire, became enthralled by early 20th century German and Austrian fine and decorative arts.


On his return home to New York, Lauder, a wealthy businessman, philanthropist, and art collector along with his friend of many years, Serge Sabarsky, an art dealer and museum organizer, decided to establish a museum devoted solely to the display of the works and artifacts of the artists and designers of this particular Austrian and German period that attracted them both so very much. 


They bought a magnificent Beaux-Arts building located in the Manhattan neighborhood known as Museum Mile and designed in 1914 by Carrere & Hastings architects, who had also designed the majestic New York Public Library.  Its many previous owners had included a Vanderbilt.  Annabelle Selldorf of the firm of Selldorf Architects was commissioned to turn it into a museum.  Tragically Sabarsky passed away before the museum was completed but Lauder was determined to see it become a reality.


The stunning result is a magnificent building with sky-high ceilings and a wide marble staircase that leads up to the top two floors where the galleries are located.  Vast rooms trimmed with marble or paneled in richly carved wood are perfect backdrops on which to display the paintings of great artists such as Egon Shiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Richard Gerstl, Alfred Kubin, Koloman Moser, Alfred Kubin, Emil Nolde, and Gustav Klimt.  Klimt’s golden portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer is simply mesmerizing.  Lauder purchased it in 2006 from the Bloch-Bauers’ niece.  Its $135 million price tag was the highest anyone had ever paid for a painting at the time.  Among the decorative arts are many exquisite pieces of furniture, an amazing clock and countless other objets d’arts of the early 20th century. 


An added treat following the viewing of the Galerie’s treasures is dropping in to its Café Sabarsky, the perfect oasis in which to relish a variety of Viennese coffees and dishes like sausages on sauerkraut, goulash, strudel, and sacher torte with lots of whipped cream.


Location:  Fifth Avenue and 86th Street, New York, NY 10028     

Telephone: 212-628-6200    www.neuegalerie.org

Hours: Monday: 11:00AM – 6:00PM   Thursday – Sunday: 11:00AM – 6:00PM

Admission: Adults: $20.  Students and Seniors: $10.   Children under 12 not admitted

First Friday of each month: Free from 6:00PM – 8:00PM





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