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Leonard A. Lauder Given Inaugural Whitney Collection Award; Museum's New Building to be Named in Lauder's Honor

The inaugural Whitney Collection Award was presented to Leonard A. Lauder, the Museum’s Chairman Emeritus, at a dinner on April 5, 2016 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, honoring Mr. Lauder for more than four decades of unstinting support. The Whitney Collection Award is given in recognition of an individual who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to expanding the Museum’s collection and advancing our nation’s cultural heritage.

As the Award was bestowed upon Mr. Lauder, it was announced that the Whitney’s new home in the Meatpacking District is being named the Leonard A. Lauder Building in his honor. The Renzo Piano–designed building, which opened on May 1, 2015, has been widely recognized as one of the most significant architectural projects in New York City this decade and a major addition to the cultural scene.

From its inception, the Whitney Museum of American Art’s collection has grown primarily through the foresight and generosity of individual donors, beginning with Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s personal collection of nearly four hundred works of art. Since 1975, Mr. Lauder has helped the Museum acquire 948 works of art, 760 of which he gifted personally; an additional 188 were brought in with the assistance of acquisition committees and other generous collectors. His 2002 donation of 125 works transformed the collection with iconic works by Abstract Expressionist, Pop, and Minimalist artists. These gifts have included major works by artists such as Jasper Johns, Agnes Martin, Louise Nevelson, Claes Oldenburg, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, Ed Ruscha, Kiki Smith, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol. Mr. Lauder’s vision and largesse has helped the Whitney become the preeminent museum of modern and contemporary American art.

Adam D. Weinberg, the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, commented, “Leonard Lauder is one of the greatest benefactors in the Whitney’s history. Now our Chairman Emeritus, he was a trustee for more than three decades, from 1977 to 2011. It is appropriate that Leonard is the recipient of the first Whitney Collection Award: he has always believed that the quality of a collection and the unique mix of its holdings are essential to the life force of a museum. I cannot express how grateful we are to Leonard for his exceptional generosity, leadership, and devotion. Indeed, it was Leonard Lauder who led the way forward with a major gift early on in our capital campaign that gave us the ability and vision to imagine a new future for the Whitney. So it is therefore highly fitting that the Museum’s beautiful new building on Gansevoort Street should be named in his honor. His contributions to the Whitney Museum of American Art—and indeed to culture in New York and beyond—are immeasurable.”

“I’m so honored to receive the Whitney Collection Award and to have the Whitney’s new home—a beautiful building made possible by so many—named in my honor,” said Leonard A. Lauder. “I’m very proud to join together with so many donors, artists, and others to help ensure the long-term success of this wonderful museum.”

About Leonard A. Lauder

Leonard A. Lauder, Chairman Emeritus of the Whitney Museum of American Art, was a trustee from 1977 to 2011. One of the Museum’s most significant benefactors—including a milestone gift of $131 million in 2008 from The American Contemporary Art Foundation, Inc., of which he is the President—Mr. Lauder has championed the collection over the course of the last four decades. Since 1975, Mr. Lauder has helped the Museum acquire 948 works of art, 760 of which he gifted personally; an additional 188 were brought in with the assistance of acquisition committees and other generous collectors. His dedication to building museum collections also extends beyond the Whitney. He has generously promised a major collection to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and in 2013 he pledged an extraordinary gift of seventy-eight Cubist masterworks by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, and Fernand Léger to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mr. Lauder is Chairman Emeritus of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and is currently the senior member of its Board of Directors.

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