Since its establishment in 2001, the Neue Galerie has cemented its reputation as the preeminent destination for German and Austrian art in New York City. Close friends Serge Sabarsky, who specialized in organizing museum exhibitions, Estee Lauder and chairman Ronald Lauder initially came up with the museum’s concept, although their vision was nearly halted when Sabarsky passed away in 1996. Grief-stricken, yet undeterred from his goal, Lauder brought the museum to fruition just five years after Sabarsky’s death as a tribute to his friend.
The museum found its home on November 16, 2001 on the Upper East Side’s inimitable Museum Mile, occupying a highly-visible (and coveted) Beaux-Arts building, similar to the Marquand.
The Neue Galerie makes the most of its elegant, yet comparatively small space by meticulously dividing its collection among the building’s three floors. The museum’s second floor serves as a display space for both pieces of Viennese décor from the Wiener Werkstratte and early 20th century Austrian fine art, including paintings by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. This floor houses Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, purchased by Lauder in 2006 for a rumored $135 million, the highest sale price ever for a painting at that time.
The floor above showcases German art from the same time period, including works by Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Otto Dix, among others. In addition to the museum’s extensive collection, the Neue Galerie makes use of its impeccable reputation to secure exhibitions from around the world, including shows featuring paintings by Van Gogh, modern art during the Second World War, and early 20th century Viennese fashion.